February 08, 2012 - Once in a while being the cheapest dad in town (and the meanest) has benefits.
Aside from not spoiling the lads Shamus and Sean with tons of electronic crap they'll forget as soon as the newest and coolest electronic crap hits the streets, it sometimes saves us from broadcast media feeding frenzies.
See, I don't subscribe to any cable, satellite, dish, nor internet television programming. I get the free stuff -- which means I sometimes get an ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX and PBS affiliate station. It's a toss up on whether I will get a signal to watch TV as it depends on whether or not there are leaves on the trees, clouds in the sky, wind and if there is traffic on the street in front of my house.
This past weekend, like most weekends, on Sunday we watched the national "news" shows -- I write of the plural shows, because depending on the afore mentioned signal-ruining distractions, we may watch ABC, NBC or CBS Sunday morning broadcasts. We have no favorites, nor network loyalty. This past Sunday, however the stars were aligned perfect, all the stations were elecontrically piped into our living room.
And, on all the "news" shows all we were able to learn is that singer Whitney Houston died at the age of 48, the day before. After the first 15 minutes of her life's story and commentary by those who knew her and some that didn't, we started changing the channel.
Same on ABC. Same on NBC. Same on CBS. Different "news" personnel, same story. Same archived film footage. Same no news. It got to the point, some 10 minutes after the first 15 minutes, that we started just clicking the clicker from station to station to station, in a round-robin fashion.
After 35 minutes, we turned the TV off. And, it afforded we three the opportunity to talk about drugs, relationships and the favorite topic of this skinflint, "Money can't buy you happiness."
At least we didn't have to talk about sex again.
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I've noticed a couple of trends in "news" coverage of the last few years.
1. The "royals" of England get more news coverage in America than I thought possible. Why don't we cover other countries' tapped-by-the hand-of-God types? Even the lads Shamus (14) and Sean (to be 12 on St. Patrick's Day) openly wonder why there is so much news coverage of the Brit's divinely approved family?
Who cares what they do?
We have problems here that need fixing. Let's spend more resources covering our country and less on the beautiful existences of the living royalty who live in a country that men and women from this side of the pond died liberating us from.
It's only been 220 some-odd years. Cut the strings already!
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2. The other trend I've noticed is herd mentality among broadcast "news" shows, especially when someone of notoriety kicks the bucket. And, each time some celebrity dies, the coverage grows.
Why is that? And, is that a reason why the average American viewers are so not informed about the world around us or issues that affect us -- have we been trained to only want celebrity news? The movie quote, "Please ignore the man behind the curtain" comes to mind.
Is it, plain and simple a matter of economics we don't get more better news?
Is the reason there are not more independent news stories out there only because it's cheaper to have a ton of people talk about a dead person (because you can only say nice things about the dead) than to go look for news?
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I admit it. I'm internally conflicted. While I think it's a good thing for me to be cheap, why am I casting stones at the "media" for doing the same thing? ARRG!
Don is Assistant Publisher for Sherman Publications, Inc. He has worked for the company since 1985. He has won numerous awards for column, editorial and feature writing as well as for photography. He has two, sons Shamus and Sean and resides in the area. To read archived copies of his columns, click on his name, just under his picture up top . . . He can be e-mailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org