When a Panda Sneezes
edited: Tuesday, October 21, 2003
By Andrew Rafalski
Posted: Tuesday, October 21, 2003
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Too much "who cares?" news out there
Why do network news push "news" which is not worthy of national coverage? Do you ever watch national network news and on a particular story which much of the media seem to make a big deal of, you think or yell, “Who cares?”
A current example is the news overload on the Scott Peterson murder case. So, who is, or was, Scott Peterson and, who cares? Yes, there was a murder, but there were and continue to be tons of murders every day all over the country, every day in the big cities. Why are those murders not news? Scott Peterson was not a celebrity, neither was his wife. Yes, the murder was gruesome, but is that sufficient for having the whole nation involved for months on end? Now Peterson is being displaced by a bigger (trial story) fish, Kobe Bryant. He is a personality, at least in sports, and I might understand the media interest, but not that much. With the Bryant story we have sex. Sex and a personality will make news every time.
Some of the media coverage takes on a “National Enquirer” aspect, sensational, salacious and appealing to the masses.
Another “who cares” news in my opinion is the coverage of panda bears. Anytime a panda bear sneezes anywhere in the US, it is big news on all the networks. And if the panda news somehow has a China angle (you know of course that pandas come from China) that makes it a cinch for coverage. And hey, did you ever notice, when surfing during news that so often the sequence of a particular story matches the exact story on another network? It’s as if, all the network news producers get together every day and decide which stories to cover in tandem, including commercial spots engineered to occur at the same time. I can see the agreement, “Ok, tonight the panda news will be the third story of the coverage, right after the first commercial spot, around minute six of the coverage.” Sure enough, if you are sick of the panda news and change channels – surprise! Exactly the same news is on the other networks. So much for originality and independence.
Anyway I’m tired of panda bear “news” stories. Yes, I know they might be cute cuddly creatures, but give me a break! Why don’t they cover, for example, locusts or giraffes? I for one think giraffes are a lot more interesting than panda bears. When was the last time you saw a giraffe news story on the networks and big media papers? And locusts? They can cause havoc in many of those nations that might as well be on the moon, as far as we Americans are concerned, in the far and poor reaches of Africa or Asia. Yes, when you mention “poor” with “Africa” or “Asia” the eyes glaze over. Who cares? There is no money (or sex) there and therefore no news coverage.
Among all other “who cares” stories I would bring up the yearly national spelling bee. Other than the parents of the kids up there, Who Cares? When I was being educated good spelling was just a given, a basic skill like arithmetic. But I may offend too many spellers, teachers and news producers who think good spelling is cause for national celebrity, so I won’t bring it up..