Breaking News! From Bainbridge

Published 6:15 pm Tuesday, October 20, 2009

This just in. A car on Shotwell Street was seen traveling due east with a slack tire. We’re following close behind to see if the tire will actually go flat within the next few minutes!

No wait. We’ve been called to another location. Breaking news! Breaking news! A child was overheard telling her mother that she would not eat her vegetables. We’ll continue to monitor the situation just in case the little girl decides to eat those butterbeans.

Silly stuff, but that seems to be the way the news goes these days. Thankfully, I’ve got plenty to do and I’m not stuck in front of the television all day hearing over and over again about some breaking news story that is actually no news whatsoever.

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Remember when the news came on at 6:30 in the afternoon and was a 30-minute show? It was preceded by the local news, weather and sports and that also took only 30 minutes. Later in the evening at 11, there would be a wrap-up of the day’s news before we all went to bed. Add all the news time, world, national, state and local, and it came to about an hour and a half. Even then, there were days when it was tough to fill in all the time.

Now, we have a half dozen channels devoted to nothing but news that feel they have to feed us information 24 hours a day. Folks, there just ain’t that much going on! Let me put that another way. There is not enough going on that I want to hear about.

So, how do they fill up their time? We get to hear non-stop coverage of the latest celebrity’s death for at least a day. If it happens to be someone like Michael Jackson or Ted Kennedy, it goes on for days and days ad nauseam and even includes the funeral. Even then, they sugar coat the life of the deceased to where you wonder just how we are going to get along without so-and-so.

Wait a minute! Breaking news. It seems that a peanut picker out on a farm on the Vada Road has broken a chain. According to eyewitnesses, the picker was doing just fine when the farmer saw that the peanuts were not going into the basket. We don’t know how long the picker will be down, but we’ll continue to stay close to this story. It could have a dire affect on the price of peanut butter!

Now where was I? Oh yeah, the 24-hour news cycle. We get stories like the one out of Colorado about the flying saucer-like air balloon. For about 15 minutes every news channel in the United States was telling us that a little 6-year-old boy was stuck in this helium balloon and his life was in grave danger. Talk about being held hostage.

The American people were riveted to their television screens as the drama of the life and death of a little boy was played out. As it turned out, the only playing that was done was the playing on the emotions of those who watched. Plus, the playing of gullible fools by “experienced and serious” news organizations.

Those news organizations also think that we have to hear and see everything a major political figure does. They not only show us the actual event, but we have to hear about it for two hours before and two hours after. It’s like their speeches. The news analysts tell us what we’re going to hear. Then, they allow us to hear it. After that, they tell us what we have heard.

That’s kind of like the last two minutes of a sporting event. Most of the time, the last two minutes of a game takes at least a half hour to play. A political speech that takes about 20 minutes to give, takes up about three hours of television time. I am sure my parishioners are glad my sermons don’t take that much time to absorb!

What’s next?

Somebody climbed to the top of Pike’s Peak, but can’t get down. A chopper’s on the way. Wall Street bankers got a bonus. Oh, really? Barney Frank’s mad at Bill O’Reilly and they’re gonna go at it tonight at 8 p.m. Tune it to see who can yell the loudest.

Breaking News! You remember the car on Shotwell Street? The one with the slack tire? It seems that the driver has a history of driving cars with slack tires. In fact two years ago, back in the days when you could buy re-treads, he bought a full set of tires for just $25! Should he be allowed to drive anymore? We’ll bring you more on this and other inane news at Eleven!

Inane news would be described as that which is “without sense or substance, empty.” I don’t know if all of the news that comes across the air these days has no substance. I’m sure that some of it is worthy of our knowing. At the same time, I’m equally sure that we don’t need the same stories re-told every hour. And if they are, let’s not call it breaking news each time.

I’ll end by showing my age. The first television news show I remember was the Huntley-Brinkley Report. It began this month (Oct. 29) 53 years ago (1956). It was a 15-minute program and was expanded to 30 minutes in 1963. The most famous item about the program was the sign-off each night. It went like this: “Good night, Chet. Goodnight David. And goodnight for NBC News.” That was not a spontaneous line. It was written for them by their producer and they did not like it initially. But it became their line and one of the most famous in all of television news.

At least for all of us before the time of octomom!