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  #1  
Old April 22nd, 2007, 12:28 PM
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Thoughts on "News Cycles"

After all the events that have occured over the past week (VT, Partial Birth Abortion Ruling, Bldg 44 at NASA, Blue Angels Crash) I began to wonder, "What is it about a story that captures the national attention?"

These thoughts resulted from a review of past "big stories": Natalee Holloway, a multitude of teachers having sex with students, runaway brides, Lacy Peterson, etc. Clearly there are elements of each of these that are worthy of note. However, what brings these events to the forefront of the country's consciousness? Slow news day? Importance? Human interest?

I believe that there are some stories; the events of the past week, for example (VT in particular), that should capture our attention. But, why should a missing bride, who ran away to Utah, garner so much reportage and discussion? Another example. I was working in Boulder, Colorado (Hell even in the same neighborhood) at the time of the Jon Benet Ramsey incident. Certainly it was a local story, but why did it explode across the, dare I say it, world p s yche (Hmm, has that error been fixed?). Why is this case important to skynight up in New York state? What value does reporting it bring to Malechi in California.

Certainly VT is an important matter. There are a multitude of important aspects that need to be discussed. Mental Health care and incarceration. Gun laws. Systematic problems with background checks. The p s y chological reactions of the students (both during and after the event). College administration and police response. All these things have importance. All should be debated and solutions found. But then I go to the other shooting event this week. One in which a disgruntled employee decided that the reaction to a poor performance review was to execute the reviewer. This event is along the same lines of VT and has a multitude of simularities, yet it is not getting nearly the same attention.

This lack of attention perhaps can be explained by the fact that VT was so massive, so out of the ordinary. But, the other stories, the ones in the past, why do they come into the open in such a huge way?

Ramblings end.

Buddy Lee

"Out of all the ridiculous religion stories...the silliest one I've ever heard is, 'Yeah, there's this big, giant universe...and we're all just here, just 'cuz. Just 'cuz." - Trey Parker
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  #2  
Old April 22nd, 2007, 01:30 PM
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Soap opera politics my friend...we love our dramas. Real news many times is not as interesting and the networks know it. What drives these stories...one word...ratings. Many real stories get glossed over in trade for these media driven Entertainment stories.
My daughter brought home a paper the other day talking about public misconceptions...here was one I found odd. There were actually more school shootings in the 80's than in the 90's and 2000. It does not seem right but the reason is that the media has latched onto these stories and driven them. It is not all their fault though.... we as viewers encourage this crap by tuning in whenever we get a chance.

I would be curious to see how many people could name the last few American Idol survivors opposed to how many could name 8 people in the Presidents cabinet. Who was the guy married to Britney last? and then ask what is the leader of Irans name who has threatened us with nukes. I gauruntee more Americans will know the Brittney question.

And what irks me is that it is said over and over...everyone get out and vote!!!!! I disagree...if you do not know what you are voting for and do not care then please keep your happy hump at home and watch some more MTV2 so you do not have to engage. You are doing far more harm than good... please sit back and allow me the vote without you cancelling it out because you do not like how this canidate talks or how this one looks or this one smoked marijauna. If you do not want to be involved...fine. I am ok with making important choices for you, but don't come in in the ninth inning and decide you need to be heard. You really do not, so please go back to watching the Natalie Holloway story if you do not mind. Thank you
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  #3  
Old April 23rd, 2007, 02:20 AM
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The thing that really bugs me when something is declared news worthy breaking news by the networks is the over saturation. 24/7 coverage of anything really makes me not want to care. If I don't disconnect from the media, then I start to get disconnected from real life matters that are more pressing and urgent. There are important issues that are brought up by these events, but do we really need the constant "updates" by the guy in the field finding out that he doesn't really have anything to add to the big picture?

Yeah, Skyknight, it is all about ratings. The news reporting takes a back seat to the sensationalism of the moment. That and news anchors trying to stake their claim with the "profound" monologue to accompany the moment. I'd love it if the news reporters would return to news reporting. I'd care a lot more about the news, and I think we just might get more news that is news worthy.

About the question of what captures the nations attention: There's the curmudgeon in me that says whatever the news media decides to inflict on us. The other part of me is that there needs to be something that we connect with on some real level. It needs to be something that we can feel emotionally attached to. The disgruntled employee that offs his boss isn't something I can really relate to. Some whack job coming into a class room with guns hits a little closer to home.

I had an interesting discussion with my wife comparing the feelings that arose from the 9/11 attacks and the cold war nuclear war possibility. There is the real possibility of being victim to a terrorist attack (or even a VT type attack), but that is nothing like the very real possibility of global extinction that was looming in our heads growing up in the Cold War.
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Old April 23rd, 2007, 11:14 AM
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Skynight, I agree completely. I think if all you're bringing to the voting booth is "Kerry is boring" or "Bush is stupid" or "Gore is fat" or "Hillary's a bee-otch", then just stay home.

Although I'll admit, I'd like to someday vote FOR somebody than AGAINST somebody else.
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Old April 23rd, 2007, 02:37 PM
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A requirement for a "breaking news story" is that the event had to have happened in America. The same day that VT happened, a vat of steel broke loose in a factory during a shift change. 32 workers were killed instantly by 25 tons of liquid steel and the numbers of the injured are still coming in. The results were the same as the VT, 32 dead and no exact reason why, but that event didn't even make a blip on the radar. BTW, that event happened in China, so nobody here would care about it.

It is all about what the media can do to keep people glued to their TVs and watching commercials. The actual severity of the tragedy is not important - See Anna Nicole and the Astronaut lady, but what is important is how many viewers the news thinks it can capture, and how much America need a "drama" at the time.

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Old April 23rd, 2007, 03:06 PM
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You can take the sensationalizing of a story in the news media one step forward, if the Vermont shootings had occurred the week before would Imus still have a job? I honestly believe he would as the story would have found no home in the media spot light.

Just because you're offended, it doesn't make you right.
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Old April 23rd, 2007, 03:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ej
Although I'll admit, I'd like to someday vote FOR somebody than AGAINST somebody else.
The problem with consensus choices. Anyone who is polarizing can't make it on the big stage. Look at it this way, you aren't voting against someone, you are voting for the person most likely to pursue things you would either support or be neutral towards.

~Aldin, blandly

He either fears his fate too much
or his desserts are small
That dares not put it to the touch
to gain or lose it all
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Old April 24th, 2007, 10:29 AM
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Great last point Malechi; I completely agree.

Re Buddy's original post: What really makes me go "hmm" and scruch my eyebrows together is how they not only spotlight these stories seemingly at random but how the stories subsequently develop multiple layers of drama.

Anna Nicole: why of all the cracked-out, promiscuous, former B-list celebs did the media suddenly decide to force-feed America this one? Her coverage started curiously before her death. Hmm...

Lacy Peterson: A missing person. Happens every single day. Oh, she's pregnant. Well, here's her husband walking around the house taking it rather well. Oh, he's dyed his hair and tried to jump the border into Mexico? Hmm...

Oh and we havn't heard the last of JonBenet Ramsey. They dragged that story out for YEARS only to ressurect it a few months ago and [John Madden:] "Boom" now we've got it 24/7 on every station again. It died down when the guy proved a fake but that just leaves it to be rehashed for a new generation.

I mean, how does the media know which stories are gonna unfold into further drama? It's weird....
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Old April 24th, 2007, 11:02 AM
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Old April 26th, 2007, 04:16 PM
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I think it's a result of our news being generated and distributed with the primary goal of making a profit rather than of informing it's audience. They are packaging product and trying to sell it to the masses. Sometimes things have just the right demographic appeal to garner interest, ratings, and thus advertising dollars. On top of that, the television news media is part of a large web of corporate and political interest which plays a huge part in determining what we see and how we see it.
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Old April 26th, 2007, 04:28 PM
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*sigh*

The ad for the local morning news show features the anchors interacting with a duck or a chicken or somesuch with such soundbites as "did you write this? It's chicken scratch."

So

You tell me

Would you trust these people to relay important information in a concise, rational manner?

~Aldin, who believes only half of what he sees

He either fears his fate too much
or his desserts are small
That dares not put it to the touch
to gain or lose it all
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  #12  
Old April 29th, 2007, 01:54 AM
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...and don't even get me started on the subject of selective reporting. There's actually a list of things that make a news story more (or less) likely to be reported. The more things it has in the Pro column, the more it will get reported. If it has any big things, or several little things in the Con column, it will likely not even get mentioned even if it's major news.

Example: Guy saves lives of several children, but guy is an unsociable and looked down upon member of the community, then it will not be more than a mention in the news, if at all.

However: If, a guy everyone likes and admires rescues a cow from drowning, it will be reported for several days as a "human interest" piece with interviews of his friends and family.


Example: Gunman attempts to go on a shooting spree in a school, but quick thinking gun owner (gasp!) grabs .22 from his glovebox, runs in and caps the gunman in the head before everyone dies. Barely a blip on the radar because "guns are bad" and the guy who saved dozens of lives with a gun sends mixed messages (and will get the station in trouble with liberal activists for supposedly promoting the use of firearms).

However: If a guy goes on a shooting spree on the VT campus (not long after the above story) and no one is able to stop him resulting in many lives lost, it will take over the nationwide news for days because everyone can share in their fear and horror and discuss "what made him do such a thing?"


...I could go on and on, but there's really no point. All of us have had something happen that we knew about personally and never got mentioned on the news, but then something similar happens later on and it's all over the air waves. Why? Take a look at the differences between the story that never was, and the story everyone needed to know and you'll find something on "the list" that either kept the one story form being reported, or made the other story somehow news worthy. Try it sometime.


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