Monday, March 26, 2007

ANS Overload; Adams and Paisley Meet in Belfast

This evening I was reminded why I quit watching CNN as often as before.

"News as Entertainment"--or is it "Entertainment as News?"-- is a disturbing trend. It's becoming clear, at least in my mind, that the news shows believe the average American has only a few marbles rolling around upstairs and could really care less about the actual news, so garbage stories about Anna Nicole Smith's autopsy results (and the pending paternity test results of her daughter Danielynn) are repeated ad nauseum.

As John Stossell says so eloquently, "Give me a break!"

Is this really all Americans care about? I have more faith in my fellow countrymen than that.

For our international readers, please comment about your own news services. Unlike Chris, I'm no journalism expert and don't know how these things work. Does CNN Inernational focus on more news or entertainment? I know the BBC is pretty reliable, but don't know about other countries. I'm curious, so please, fill me in.

Makes me wonder why the American news is this way. If you're at all conspiracy-minded, you'll turn to Operation Mockingbird for answers. But if you find such information hard to swallow, you'll perhaps shrug it off, finish your beer, and happily return to the umpteenth Anna Nicole Smith story being regurgitated on TV tonight.

Please tell me I'm not the only person thinking this way...

On a happier note (at least, in my opinion), something cool went down in Belfast today. Two enemies sat down together at a table and hammered out a deal.

Gerry Adams, leader of Sinn Fein, and Ian Paisley, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, worked out an agreement to share government powers. This is an historic moment because the two men had never met before in person and they represent two opposing factions: Sinn Fein is notorious for being the political arm of the Irish Republican Army (calling for the withdrawal of the UK from the six counties of Northern Ireland), and the Democratic Unionist Party does not want Northern Ireland to leave the UK. To put it mildly, they've been at each other for years.

And now it looks as though they're going to leave the past behind and work on a sustainable government...together. Here's hoping it works.

In case you're interested on more of this story, here are a few links:

Sinn Fein's official website

Democratic Unionist Party's website

History of the Troubles in Ireland

The BBC's website on the Troubles

As with anything of this magnitude, there are no easy answers, but today's meeting appears to be a step in the right direction.

21 comentarios:

Grace said...

Court welcome back. I am so sick of all this tabloid so called journalism and not just the celebrity stuff. When the young woman, Tara Lynn Grant was murdered here in Michigan the story went on and on. It was partly the fault of the husband because he kept calling the reporters on their cells. After a couple of days it really got to me and I quit listening. Then they found Tara's dismembered body and the national media joined the fray. I sent 360 an email thanking them for not over doing the story, but the next night they joined the bandwagon. I know people want to hear about things like this and ANS, but when do you stop. There are so many other more worthwhile topics to cover, but it's all about ratings not relevance.

Maddy said...

Welcome back Courtney.

I haven't noticed the ANS coverage as much because I'm not watching that much TV anymore. I find I'm getting better, more comprehensive news coverage online.

The ANS story doesn't hold alot of interest for me. I tuned in to the coverage right after she died but the non-stop coverage since has been too much for my taste.

It wouldn't be so bad if they mentioned it in a short segment during a newscast but the amount of time "news organizations" are spending on this story is ridiculous.

That's very encouraging news from Belfast! I want to go check out the websites you have listed and learn more. Thanks for posting it. It's nice to hear some hopeful news!

ivy said...

at least Anderson made sure to let the audience know that on a personal note, he couldn't care less. But really -money, money, money. News channels are supposed to be profit centers and worry about ratings more then content. BBC is at least in part goverment sponsored, they don't have the same business pressure. Plus american audience is not only cities, it's also soccer moms in province.

I agree, news departments are losing focus. Their role among other things is to educate the public and as professionals to decide what is or should be important. Instead they are lettig the projections of what the public wants to see guide their decisions. I'm afraid that creates a vicious cycle.

Bev said...

We get a certain amount of ANS coverage in Canada, but I'd say no more than 5-10 minutes per hour, nothing in-depth like the States, but then again Canadian broadcasters know it's just a flip of the switch for us to find out whatever we want to know. I guess they feel as long as they up-date once an hour that's fine. The only thing I find is we don't seem to have that much original news from Canada. We're kept filled in on American politics and of course Iraq. Most of the time I switch to CNN. Fox is ridiculous for ANS news, they spend at least 20 minutes or more every hour on every broadcast. Then again they get the ratings.

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Suzanne said...

I am sick of the ANS story as well; what about the war, and what our government is doing, and they could have done an in-dept on the agreement in Ireland - lot of history there that most folks wouldn't know. That would have been far more informative and valuable than all the time they wasted on ANS. Just IMHO but it seems stars and people of dubious renown are more important to the news programs than news.....

On a last note - I saw on the CNN site that there were 2 major environmental stories yesterday - one about the proposal to Bush on using 86% ethanol and 15% gas for fueling our cars to get away from our horrible dependence on mideast oil, and 2) a report about climate change that the scientific community is putting out this week. You would have THOUGHT with the Planet in Peril series they are doing about the environment that they would have at least mentioned these but I don't remember a word about them!

Bev said...

It would seem the interest in this ANS story is so intense and worldwide (even though we can't imagine that) they almost have to keep up or lose a lot of viewers. I was looking around some blogs the last few days and the comments on any of them to do with ANS are in the thousands, most are on overload I guess for the people that are interested Court TV carries it all day most days but the live coverage goes off at 5PM and most people are just getting home from work so the evening and nighttime programs feel they have to show it.

ivy said...

@suzanne -I don't think Planet in Peril series were well thought out at all. They seems to be altering the original idea of it judging from the latest broadcast. I still hope there'll be a nice special or something of that kind.

Suzanne said...

@Ivy - I agree with you on the planning of the Planet in Peril series. It seems so (dare I say it) light-weight, compared to a lot of the other stuff they do. The Amazon part especially - just on this blog I learned more from the postings than I did from what they did on it. So when they said they were going to SE Asia I did a bunch of research on Cambodia and Thailand, just kind of skimming the surface - and came up with more than they did. It is nice to see the animals. But they need to develop a couple of consistent themes to tie stuff back to. There doesn't seem to be much continuity to it all. I read somewhere that it was called "AC360 Petting zoo". I don't think its that bad - but it sure could use some improvement.

Maybe as they get more into it, it will get better. And perhaps with Discovery's series on Planet Earth, they will have something to model on. Of course, it could be lightweight because CNN isn't funding it well....or because the crew going is so small and the time they are allowed so short. (Planet Earth took 5 years and numerous crews).

I'm hoping in the end for a good special too and perhaps then they will tie it to themes, do more research, etc. But it would be nice to see some of that promise now. Oh, well, we will see.

In the meantime I at least am going to enjoy the picture of Anderson with the animals. At least that is easy on the eyes and its NOT ANS!!!

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ivy said...

It seems to be more obvious what incentive Keith Olbermann had attcking AC personally a little while ago. Now that Countdown on MSNBC seems to be repeated at 10pm -competing with AC360 directly -I wonder what direction 360 choose to fight for ratings with KO. More sensational and celebrity coverage? Is that why they feature a story about Oprah's schools tonight? What's the importance or fascination? If AC360 don't want their ratings to tank they should engage cnn's resources and have more real issues, news and international reports on the show. If somebody wants to watch ANS coverd for half an hour they can switch to Greta and get it there. They better get their act together, and fast.

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Suzanne said...

Well, with the new competition, can anyone at CNN do a beter job at that time slot than AC360? Who on CNN has the best ratings? Or do the all tank? One network always comes in last (remember the ratings wars between ABC, NBC, and CBS when there were just 3 tv stations? One of them was consistently low in the ratings regardless of what they did).

How does AC360 compare with Greta and Keith? Greta does tabloid, what does Keith do? Perhaps AC360 is the only station with real news and if it is, it should stay that way and emphasize that they are the station that covers news that matter - news that affect people's lives; not tabloid trash that is ere today and gone tomorrow.

It has to be discouraging. I heard Andy say in a interview that they got ratings reports every hour. As hard as he works, it has to be discouring to see that you are coming in lower than the tabloid queen of Fox.

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Anonymous said...

I'm a little behind here, but I'll admit that I haven't been watching the news at all. CNN Headline News plays in the cafeteria at school, and for the entire hour I was in there, ANS was all I saw. I realized I wasn't missing anything. I occasionally watch BBC news at night, and it doesn't seem to be as bad. But, whenever someone in the royal family does something, it's on.
It disgusts me to see news time being constantly devoted to such trivial matters, and that's exactly why I quit watching. I get my news online, that way I can weed out the BS.
Welcome back, by the way!

Suzanne said...

I thought he looked depressed too - wondered if it was because of work (it is suppose to be really competitive) or personal issues. Of course, it may be that he just doesn't like studio work.

I didn't think when he introduced Karen Chetry that he looked all that pleased to have a new person on the show - if it had been me, I would have been brooding over what effect it was going to have on my position.

He works himself too hard it seems and I read so much negative stuff about him on other sites. Its a shame because he really does a good job on most of the stuff he does. And he doesn't have the entire say-so about what they do, so some things can't be blamed on him. I don't know if he has a research associate or does all his own research, but that might help him be more consistent. I think half the time, he just runs out of time to get the story together.

He is also at that age where you start to question if what you are doing is worth it...if it is makingg a difference...if in the words of Henry David Thoreau, you are going to look back when you die and find you never lived at all....

CNN needs to remember that ratings are not everything; someone has to present a news program that is balanced; objective, and aimed for people with intelligence and not those who think the only headlines worth reading are those in the National Inquirer.

And yes, it applies to everyone. I still don't know what I want to do when I grow up - I was a housewife and mother for a dozen ears, a computer programmer for 16 years, and now I'm disabled and trying to figure out what I can do despite my condition to feel like I am adding worth to the world. I'm not much older than Andy either.

Well enough from me....

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Suzanne said...

re: Sharla
You watch for the same reason I watch. Before the disablity (BD time), I never watched the news, didn't care, didn't have time to do anything but go to work and work. I was achieving my goals but becoming an uncaring, unhappy, paranoid 5 letter woman in the process (Thoreau again). Not sure it was completely from achieving my goals or from the work atmosphere I was in (nice people, terrible company).

Then I became disabled and was pulled from work 2 days before Katrina hit. Like most of America I watched, virtually glued to the tv, for the next week. And who did I watch - Andy of course. His passion for the story, his obvious distress over the plight of the victims, his forthrightness (and his taking on Senator Landrieu) made me sit up and take notice. I thought, here is someone who is making a difference, a discernible difference for the good. He made me hopeful that the news media was becoming human and caring again.

I started watching the news everynight. I got interested in what was going on; started reading mounds of books about what Anderson was reporting on (especially Iraq, Islam, Iran, etc) so I understood the nuances of the reports. And I went back to being an environmentalist (I have always been what my family calls a tree-hugger (they are too) but that had gotten lost at work too). And I was inspired by the AC360 theme of "keeping them honest".

So Anderson inspired me to be better too. I'm still figuring out the how to make a difference part (other than writing checks for causes), but Anderson brought me back into the world and showed me what was really important - the war, the environment, Dafur, etc. Most days when I watch him I am inspired; some days just intimidated by his energy and passion and integrity.

But like you - I realized that I had to change and slowly I am. I watch Anderson it seems for some of the same reasons you do; I don't deny I can be a big fan girl too, but mostly I listen because its so rare to see someone who consistently in their job does a good job and at the same time tries to make a difference - even a small difference.

I have often thought if we all tried to make a difference each day in just one person's life and did it everyday, that we could accomplish amazing differences/improvements over the long run. While life requires that we support ourselves (so our jobs take up a lot of our time), I think in the end we are here to help each other, to make some sort of difference, to care enough to make that difference. That's what Anderson has shown me; that its not THINGS that matter - its PEOPLE. In showing me that, he probably saved me mentally, etc.

On a lighter note - my kids who have to suffer through my Anderson addiction, said that they appreciate that with his ipod list he got me listening to some DECENT music instead of what I used to listen to!! (OF course I listen to both now).

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Suzanne said...

@Sharla - try the public library for his father's book. That is where I first got it to read. Then I found an overpriced paperback copy on ebay that I bought to have it to refer back to. It is a great book. Talks about how famlies used to get together in the summers, have reunions, etc. I know some still do, but mine quit and his book brought back a lot of good memories.

I also learned from it that Anderson had quite a temper when he was little (got spanked for kicking the nanny/nurse); his special thing with his father was to walk each evening to the pizza place, not to eat, just to walk and talk and be together; that he was a great mimic from early on; and that he was always "fearless", climbing the narrow steps of a Mayan temple ruin while his mother and father looked on barely able to breathe; and that he had a pet snake named Sam - loved animals his father wrote. Wonder if that included frogs?

I read his mother's books, the father's book (the best of the lot), Anderson's book, and all the stuff I could find. The iceberg though I think goes down very far and the tip that we can see is so small that its almost insignificant. That, someone that shows so little of his "real" self can inspire so many is remarkable. (I don't mean that in a fan gurl way but I know it sounds like it!).

My daughter wants to be a doctor - emergency room/trauma. what type of doctor are you going to be? You will be a good one; smart, emphatic, person oriented. One great doctor, I bet.

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Don't think for me. Don't assume what I want to hear or read. Give me facts. Give me reasons. But not yours. Bring me debate. Enlighten me. Today, accountability is masked behind anonymity; bylines are hidden by zeros and ones. Everyone publishes; everyone is "in the know." Ethics are non-existent. Speculation is king. The truth is masked and a hostage. Empowered by our minds, WE ARE THE FREAKSPEAKERS!


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