Last Thursday I spent the whole morning reading. Not a bad way to start the day; except that I was at the mechanic's waiting room with Fox News Channel talking at me from the TV in the corner. I've decided, if there's one thing that could fall off the face of the earth and I wouldn't miss it, it would probably be news channels. There are a lot of things I don't personally enjoy or reap the benefits of, but I recognize they have a place in human ecology. But news channels?
If they're around to instantaneously report vital information, there's the 10:00 news, and more effectively, the internet. Most people have the news e-mailed to them, or they can look it up from countless (relatively) reliable sources.
If news channels function as some sort of entertainment, they're as successful as laugh-track sitcoms on minor networks.
If news channels aim to provide education, they've fallen into the same trap as most American schools. The most they educate on is useless, irrelevant, mind-numbing information. If you want education, watch C-Span, History Channel, Discovery, or my personal favorite, PBS.
I was at the mechanic's for nearly three hours, and the biggest stories, the most led-up-to, were about Obama and Clinton traveling to Unity, New Hampshire to begin their new tour called Unite for Change. The big inside scoop? That they'd decided on Unite, instead of Uniting or United. Uniting implies a never-ending effort. United implies they've already done it and it's over. This explanation was given at least twice while I was there, and it was just as interesting as it sounds. Also, Barack's tie matched Hilary's suit. Wow! That's teamwork!
Then there was the breaking news that the FCC was meeting to discuss new rules concerning embedded advertising in TV shows and movies. Don't they have better things to do? Must want to get on the ticker on the news channel. Transitioning from the FCC via the "Great Cheese comes from Happy Cows; Happy Cows come from California," it's apparently newsworthy that dairy cows in Green Bay, Wisconsin now sleep on waterbeds. This "watershed" discovery led to slightly higher productivity. Wow, I'll have to try that with my cows at home.
Possibly the most inane and un-journalistic news story was about baristas in some Seattle area coffee shops that are being told to cover up or be regulated as "adult entertainment" coffee shops. The reporter "had to go undercover" to get this story. A couple coffee shops were drawing customers with bikini-clad baristas. Competition ensued, and some women customers complained that the "uniforms" were getting too skimpy. Follow that story with a humorously repulsive picture of Sasha Cohen as Borat in a "mankini," and you've got news.
Is this news, I ask you? It's not news, it's not entertainment, it's not education. It's not even good for white noise while I'm trying to read.