One More Shipwreck – The News of the Day

“And I am sure that I never read any memorable news in a newspaper. If we read of one man robbed, or murdered, or killed by accident, or one house burned, or one vessel wrecked, or one steamboat blown up, or one cow run over on the Western Railroad, or one mad dog killed, or one lot of grasshoppers in the winter, – we need never read of another. One is enough. If you are acquainted with the principle, what do you care for a myriad instances and applications?” Henry David Thoreau, Walden

This is my general principle regarding the news. I read Walden first in high school, in the midst of endless arguments about Vietnam, free love, youth rebellion, marijuana legalization, LSD etc. etc. Once I read it, I stopped reading or watching the news. That did not stop the arguments, though. My mother had an obsession with 1) starting fights and 2) keeping up with current events. “Don’t you want to know what’s going on in the world?” Anyway, I took Thoreau’s philosophy as my own.

Mom wanted me to be a news reporter. I wanted to be the news. She gave me a typewriter when I graduated from high school. Years later, a precious friend who had been an international news correspondence said mom should have given me a one way ticket to Turkey and told me to write my way home.

But in honor of the Daily Prompt, I looked at the news… Thoreau is still right, though the presentation of the news has changed. The scary stories are now placed (on Yahoo News, anyway) below “Check Out These Cuddly Animals.” Looks like these days, on Yahoo!, warm and fuzzy comes first.

There is also the phenom of the news being “tailored” to the audience — thanks, Google — so I got to read headlines involving retirement, answering the question, “What are Annuities?” and “Early Retirement. You CAN Do It!” Lots of white haired models and older couples holding hands, walking into the sunset, sweaters draped over their shoulders all a scary preppy flashback because that’s what all baby boomers are, right? Old hippies and a preppy flashback? (Je suis l’anarchie)


Demo disk for Anarchy in the UK. Wish I owned it!

Disgusted (again) by Yahoo! I cruised over to CNN to see what cow had been run over by what railroad. In these days, it’s what African-American has been shot in the back by a white cop. This time it really does look unequivocally like murder. Yay?

The Duggars are into their second generation of their egoistic contribution to world over-population. Malia Obama has learned to drive and I’m supposed to be curious about who taught her. Iran is playing chicken in the waters around Yemen. A fascist Another guy has thrown his hat in the ring for 2016. Some people will support him and if you (dear reader, as they said in the 19th century) are one, don’t be offended at my opinion. You wouldn’t even known it if it weren’t for the daily prompt. Politics, like religion, should remain a personal question. I normally hold my beliefs very close to the chest. But if you’re curious, read Plato’s dialogue between Socrates and Glaucon, “The Allegory of the Cave.” Generally, Socrates asserts that those best suited to rule, the true philosopher kings, will not seek office, that only egotistical and vain people will seek office and that will be for their own public aggrandisement not for the good of the state or the people in it. True philosopher kings, the best leaders, must be compelled to take on this duty for a period of time.

When the world WANTS my opinion on things and WHEN the world listens and acts according to my opinion, the news might interest me, but, in the meantime, I think I’ll get those tomato plants going and let others work out their visions, delusions and dreams without my help. After all, I have my own to work on! Such as the one that says people will want to read a novel about the Protestant Reformation in Switzerland in the 16th century. Right?

18 thoughts on “One More Shipwreck – The News of the Day

  1. Is the news the truth? Is what we are reading something to get more public interest to buy the newspapers or watch the TV programme. I like to know who is who, but what is actually happening is long a good story to get your interest. Some might be true, some just to get your interest. News is slowly becoming an industry, a profit making business and what can you believe.

  2. Brilliant essay, Martha. I’ve been trying for three hours to write something on this topic and find that the only thing I’ve been able to write about was what I just wrote and erased from this comment. You can find it on my blog. Thanks for being my muse! Judy

  3. News is what a news director says it is. It was like that when Garry was working. I can’t imagine it’s changed. Funny that your mother wanted you to be a reporter. Garry’s mother wanted him to keep selling shoes (he was good at it). HE wanted to be a movie star. Preferably Cary Grant (he liked the way Cary wore his clothing), but otherwise, Steve McQueen maybe. He wound up a reporter and was good at it.

    He still likes shoes and rivals Imelda Marcos in number of pairs.

    The news isn’t news. It’s anything that happened which will bring in viewers, keep ratings up, and generate revenue. It’s always about the bottom line.

  4. I’m with Thoreau all the way on this one. I find watching the news on a regular basis either depressing or stultifyingly boring, since we lucky viewers are presented with the same endless reruns of old clips for days before a new set gets inserted into the news machine. I don’t have to have my nose rubbed in crap to know it’s out there, thank you very much.

  5. And don’t even get me started on the average twenty minutes of commercials–the SAME commercials, over and over ad nauseum–for each forty-minute hour of Canadian television broadcasting! Strings of silly commercials make me insane. (Perhaps this isn’t a problem in the States, though. It’s horrendous where I live.)

    I often watch programs on TVO (Canadian PBS), but for the most part, I’ll take a good book any day over the boob tube!

  6. So insightful the way you synthesized this. My hubbie HATES the news and it’s hype of the day! I pretty much watch local news and ABC affiliate then that’s for weather and traffic and something positive local. Tired of all news being a sales ploy!

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