Friday, November 24, 2006

Why is this news?

Every Black Friday, television news has shots of people (usually in New York) streaming into stores before sunrise, running for the few units the store has of their loss-leader items. Every year it's the same coverage. Every year they have someone standing in the middle of the mob, asking people what they bought.

Why is this news? Why is it news worthy of taking up valuable air time?

If people rushed into the stores in unusually large numbers, that's news. If someone is hurt or crushed in the melée, that's news. If no one went, that is certainly news. When the numbers come out as to how much money was spent, that's news (at least it's an economic indicator).

People rushing into the stores on Black Friday is not news! It's like reporting that people open presents on December 25. The mere fact that people rush to these stores is not news, and should not eat into the precious little time television gives to serious news. This makes me angry. We hear squat about equipment problems among British forces in Afghanistan, the killings in Darfur, Pakistan's long-needed reform of their rape laws, or that biologists have discovered the first extinctions due to global warming a decade sooner than predicted, but we hear all about how the big toy this season was the 10th anniversary Tickle-Me Elmo!

I'd complain about our priorities, but this sort of thing has been happening for millennia. As the Romans coined it, "bread and circuses"...

2 comments:

alana said...

For the same reason as a Tickle Me Elmo shipment getting hijacked is all over CNN...but a missing woman in NC gets practically nothing...certainly not national attention. What sells? Cute...sentimental drivel...money, fame or power. Another instance of 'making' news instead of reporting it...

Allan Goodall said...

I often wonder if people want to watch this drivel, or it is just assumed they want it.

Edward R. Murrow apparently lamented the increase in soft news — primarily in the reporting of Hollywood gossip. At the time, such gossip captured viewers. I'm sure you are right, that cute, sentimental drivel sells. I'm just curious how much of the drivel is simply assumed to be popular.