Happy New Year!
I think. As I write this it's lunchtime on the 31st and there are no signs that a deal to keep America from hurling over the fiscal cliff is going to be made. Maybe it's an unhappy new year for you so far, but it shouldn't be. Even if our elected officials can't come to terms on a bill designed to ensure their re-election these tax increases you'll see are sure to be transitory at best. Why? Because once the rates roll up any change will then be re-cast as "middle class tax cuts" which are far more palatable for Tea Party Republicans than are "tax increases for the wealthy". This is politics, and what is done can quickly be undone and it will be undone right before it's time to start campaigning for the mid-term elections.
All of that really leads us to the point of this post: How the media are continually making a mess out of their reporting of the news of the day. We're constantly being reminded how tough the sledding is for traditional media outlets. From the collapse of old-school print media to America's tuning out of network news times are hard for those who used to inform us in regards to the news of the day. For the ordinary news consumer however, things are looking up.
The fact is there are more news outlets providing live, up-to-the-minute updates on the goings-on in the world than ever before. On a promising note, many of them are not for-profit corporations seeking to make money off of that car that crashed into Buffalo Bayou killing 2 while stunned on-lookers ogled the comely female news reader as she applied her make-up. Yes, unfortunately, many of these news outlets are of a Newsish, partisan lean and many are just plain awful but there are some pearls hidden among the swine. As a consumer of news it falls to you to find the good ones and stop visiting the bad.
If, after much searching, you're still a little confused about the difference between good, solid news content let's take a look at today's Chron.com entry page and hopefully we can provide a little direction.
Judge to decide on Women's Health Care Program order. - Good topic, but lazy. The piece offers no detail and one very large piece of editorializing by the writer. I'll just say this: It may be that shutting down Planned Parenthood in Texas is one of the side-effects of their exclusion from the WHC, but it's not the Republicans primary goal here. The primary goal is to prevent abortions, whether the writer thinks that or not.
Kanye West and Kim Kardashian expecting first child. First off: This is not "news". That this is running alongside a story about a search for a missing woman and a statement from the UT-Austin football player allegedly involved in a sexual assault case is embarrassing. ChronBlog is increasingly featuring more and more stories like this on their home page, making the real news harder and harder to find.
Hayes Carlls Burlesque Circus - If there's anything more mind-numbing than the 29.95 "scenesters" pictorials we've yet to find them. On another note: dead-tree media seems fascinated with burlesque. Well, burlesque and roller derby.
New Year's resolutions you can actually keep - Continuing with the pictorial theme, this time in the form of a listicle as well. Not only is the technology they use slow and buggy, but the lists are often just the personal likes and proclivities of the compiler thrown at you with no editing or sense filter.
Montgomery County businessman held in wife's shooting death. - This is the big 'newsmaker' story of the day for Chronblog, and it's given front page, center real estate complete with a very large picture of the businessman in question. The story itself is pretty bare bones, and was probably cribbed off of the police wires while the reporter was sitting at his desk.
There are a lot more stories from which I could choose but I think you get the idea where I'm heading here. From one of Houston's leading news outlets, there's very little actual "news" that a person couldn't receive more rapidly from other sources, with just about the same level of detail. Even worse, what is good is often co-mingled with stories that really aren't. These stories are a desperate cry for page-hits I get that, but that's also part of the problem with news outlets now.
2013 has the potential to be a critical year in regards to the future of not only Texas, but America and the world as well. How we deal with a laundry list of issues is going to determine a lot about our future direction, whether or not the Republic will still resemble itself going forward, and who will be the last person to turn out the lights in France & California. All of these important issues are coming, and that Kim Kardashian is expecting is taking up prime website real estate that could be used laughing at both Team Granola and the Frogs.
This is not just a Houston-centric problem. The guy that everyone points to as Texas' top political reporter is pre-occupied with chastising Dewhurst for moving conservative and predicting the end of a group he never understood in the first place. Texas leading source for left-leaning news-ish content is fixated on the speaker's race to the point of distraction at times while their political "reporting" is nothing more than a liberal opinion piece masquerading as hard news. Part of the problem is that the news reporters get too chummy with those who they cover, so an inside baseball game gets more coverage than its effect on Texans warrants. The speaker's race is very important to politicians who are aiming for choice committee chairs, but it's nowhere near as important as it's made out to be. In reality it's the session's opening monologue, with all of the important bits to follow. As it's currently reported the outcome is the climax, and everything else is falling action.
We've gotten to the point that news is becoming increasingly hard to find, while news-ish and fluff are taking over the Internet. If we, as news consumers, don't demand change soon we might soon find that we've fallen over the fiscal cliff and have landed in a field of artificial fluff. The real fluff causing the sheep distress when they're sheared and all.
Let's come together and make 2013 a better year for news. Even if the news is bad we can all take satisfaction in demanding that it's well-reported.