Pulling the Plug on Electronic and Print News
Having spent a few years on this planet (just enough, not too many), I had the joy of growing up as television evolved in the 1960’s. I had a chance to watch some of the gods of television news during my youth: Chet Huntley, David Brinkley, Walter Cronkite and others. I don’t remember Edward R. Murrow, but I learned of him studying journalism in college.
Through the 1970’s and into the 1980’s, the forces that made television news reliable and balanced began to mutate. One memorable event was when Roone Arledge, the genius behind ABC’s Wide World of Sports, became the news guru for the network. This marked a progression from news as a public service to news as entertainment (and a profitable source for advertising revenues).
Another memorable moment (in the midst of tremendous sadness) was when the American Embassy in Tehran was stormed in 1979 and ABC began running an 11:30 PM review of the day’s events called America Held Hostage: Day xx with Ted Koppel. Although we were later spared the indignity of this ridiculous title when the program was renamed Nightline, we have since been subjected to a never-ending stream of ludicrous monikers for heart-breaking news events and boring news stories (doesn’t AMERICA DECIDES sound so wonderfully thrilling?).
The final event worth noting was the birth and expansion of cable/satellite TV and the swelling of available channels into the hundreds. As a kid growing up outside New York City, we were blessed with ABC, NBC and CBS along with three independents (WOR, WPIX, and WNEW) plus WNET, the PBS station. How the heck did we survive with so few choices?
Network news programs at 6:00 PM were soon preceded by local news. Local news programs expanded to an hour. Ted Turner launched CNN. Before we knew it, we had talking heads shouting news and fluff at us 24/7 on dozens of channels, each competing for advertising revenues and audience shares by shoving every conceivable story under our noses. Thus, the mutation of true news stories into “no-news” news, sound bytes, spin and every imaginable human interest story possible.
Shock Jocks, The Media, Rush Limbaugh and to HELL with NOW December 18, 2007
Pulling the Plug on Electronic and Print News
Website Let’s You Vote Your Conscience on Issues, Not Political Hype
Americans seem to be caught up in a frenzy of media hype for the 2008 Presidential Election well in advance of the first primary voting. One has to marvel that candidates are doing the same thing to the presidential elections that the retail industry did to Christmas. Just like holiday sales advertising that starts in October, we have begun the commercialization of the electoral process way ahead of conventional schedules.
Some might find this to be a healthy situation, but its positive impacts are only superficial.. We’ve already had debates, serious fundraising, name calling, media spin, character assassinations and the endless polls. Some analysts have suggested that candidates who are unable to garner 3% audience recognition at this unusually early date should consider dropping out.
The good news is that an organization called 2decide.com has developed a web site that allows voters to see which candidate best represents the issues most important to them. By visiting http://www.dehp.net/candidate/, voters can program their answers to 25 campaign issues and then see how all the candidates, Democrats and Republicans, measure up on those issues. My favorite political pundit and long-time friend, Tim McHugh of Area 51 Special Effects, promised me that I would be surprised at who was the campaign leader BASED SOLELY on a blind poll about the issues important to Americans. And I honestly was surprised!
Distorting History with The History Channel June 30, 2007
The History Channel is at it again. It’s Saturday night, June 30, and The History Channel is featuring “The Kennedy Assassination: Beyond Conspiracy.” For those of you who have not seen this show, it is a distortion of the true facts in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Essentially, it is another program in a long series of disinformation pieces designed to focus blame for Kennedy’s murder on Fidel Castro, the Mafia or solely on the shoulders of Lee Harvey Oswald.
First, let’s understand who runs The History Channel to determine if some slant might exist. According to the website for A&E Television Networks: “A&E Television Networks, a joint venture of The Hearst Corporation, ABC, Inc. and NBC Universal, is an award-winning, international media company offering consumers a diverse communications environment ranging from television programming, to home videos/DVDs and music CDs, to web sites, as well as supporting nationwide educational initiatives. AETN is comprised of A&E Network®, The History Channel®, History International™, The Biography Channel®, Military History Channel™, The History Channel en español™, Crime & Investigation Network™, AETN International, and AETN Consumer Products.” (more…)
Hockey Season Is Over — 5/6/07 May 6, 2007
The hockey season is over. I don’t have to turn on NBC or Versus for a long. long time.
It is with sadness that my Brendan Shanahan jersey, the one that had an undefeated record of 14-0 (including four playoff wins), is hanging in my closet after suffering its first defeat. It will have to wait until next season to join a rotation with my Jagr, Messier, Esposito and Leetch jerseys. My lucky Brendan Shanahan shirt, the black one celebrating his 600th goal early this season, also suffered its first defeat and is in the wash.
The playoff beard is already shaven off, and I won’t have to shave my head for the Stanley Cup Finals. Although my 8th Graders were thrilled at the prospect of me shaving my head, nothing good can come of a fat, old white man shaving his head … it is too ugly to put into words.
Why the NHL Sucks … besides Colin Campbell April 29, 2007
The NHL lost a fan today at about 4:30 PM EDT.
He was not an ordinary, everyday hockey fan. He was a long-time season ticket holder for the New York Rangers. He and his family not only attended games at the world’s most famous arena, Madison Square Garden, but also traveled to other cities that had difficulties filling their arenas (whether it was due to the team’s fortunes or just a general disinterest in hockey).
Like many hockey fans, he became interested playing the game as a young boy until an injury prevented further play. He was also lucky enough to have a dad who had access to tickets at MSG, and he was a frequent spectator.
Like most Ranger fans, his life as a Ranger fan had nothing to do with winning and everything to do with tradition and loyalty. He had to wait 38 years of his life to finally see Mark Messier hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup in hockey’s top-rated market. Following the joy of 1994, the ensuing twelve seasons were, at best, frustrating and included some of the greatest team failures in the Rangers’ long history.