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Monday, December 17, 2012

I think I'm ready to go back to network news

On Friday we had the horrific shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, where so many people were gunned down by a mentally ill person. I think it has shaken the whole country and seems to have at least started a conversation about how we treat and take care of our mentally ill. The conversation about gun control is polarizing and ongoing, and I have no intention of getting into it with this post (except: why do we need assault weapons? I can't quite remember).

I was more interested in talking about the way we get our news these days. On Friday I was eating lunch with a couple of friends (Yummy sushi in Cleveland. Try it. It's good. Get the dancing Tuna roll), and noticed the story developing on the TV in the restaurant. Of course I immediately started scrolling through my Twitter and Facebook timelines. Slate quickly reported that the shooter was a 24 year old man named Ryan Lanza, and they were kind enough to point their readers to a FB page that they thought was his. He posted that it wasn't him (see below).

I also heard on Twitter that: both of his parents had been killed; his brother had been killed; his mother was the teacher in the classroom he went to; his friend and the friends girlfriend were missing...
Later that day, Slate came back with a correction that it wasn't Ryan, but his brother Adam. I was amazed that Slate wasn't apologetic about the misinformation that they had helped spread. We also found out later that the father was alive (a reporter broke the story to him as he was pulling into his driveway!!!) and that the mother didn't work at the school. All the while, the news shows were posting the death toll as if it were a game score.

Here's my point: there is this incredible rush to be the first to break a story - oh, I know, I run to twitter, FB, cable news, anywhere I can to eat up breaking news. But, you know what? I think I'd really rather wait an hour or two and let the news outlets get their facts straight. This is one reason why I'm about ready to turn off MSNBC, FOX and CNN. The networks have just a short time each evening to present a few stories instead of 24 hours each day to fill up like the cable folks do. During the day, the network execs make decisions about which stories to cover and in what detail. In the meantime, FOX spends all day spouting the most silly right wing bullshit. MSNBC, while at least telling the truth, does it in a completely left slanted fashion (with the exception of Morning Joe). And CNN, for some reason, is content to read its viewers tweets (what a disappointment that network has become) and call it news. So, I think I'll just go back to the traditional nightly news.

May I ask one more question? Why is it so important to rank this shooting as the "second most deadly school shooting in history" as CNN showed on its scroll all Saturday morning? Why do we always have to rank disasters? What the hell is wrong with us? Ok. That was three questions.

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