Dick Tracy: Do we really need the 24-hour news cycle?
How much news is too much news?
When I was a youngster, the day’s news was capsuled in five-minute radio reports, the morning or evening newspaper and newsreels at the movie house.
In the late 1950s, when television finally came to Reno, our TV trays were set up for 30 minutes of news and commentary from Walter Cronkite.
Now, on a typical day, my news cycle may begin around 6:30 a.m., listening to NPR news from the comfort of our bed. During breakfast we switch to KNCO for local news and weather while scanning both The Union and Wall Street Journal.
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Next, it’s a trip into our office to check on emails and see what tidbits of information are offered by MSN.com. Plus, a prompt on the right side of the screen offers prompts on “breaking news.”
Sometimes I’ll listen to Donald Trump’s apologist Rush Limbaugh, at least for awhile. We go way back to when Rush was a hot item on KFBK radio in Sacramento and I was writing a weekly radio column for The Bee. In fact, I gave him his very first award for his talk show performance. Why not? He’s a showman!
At 5 p.m. it’s time for a dose of BBC America news, followed by PBS’ Nightly Business Report or maybe a half hour of prescription medicine ads blended with bits of news on one of the networks. Or it’s on to the PBS Newshour. Sometimes, too, I venture over to MSNBC for Rachel Maddow’s political commentary.
Before going to bed I’m briefly back on the internet for emails and “news updates.”
I almost forgot that Time and Fortune are among our magazine subscriptions.
Sometimes it’s hard getting to sleep after absorbing all that information.
Maybe that regimen is a bit “over the top” for most folks, but with the current 24-hour news cycle, I’m guessing it’s not too far above average.
Happily, I don’t have an iPhone for Facebook to gobble up even more time. I suspect a whole generation of chiropractic practice will evolve dealing with neck problems from people bent over hand-held devices.
Thanks to diatribes emanating from the White House or Congress, there’s always plenty of chaff to offer to the public, but there are still “slow news days” in which we’re fed a lot of local stories disguised as national news. A madman shoots up a bank in a distant city. Is that national news?
The point I’d like to make is that having so much information, all day long, might easily be contributing to the deep divisions in America. If you’re a liberal, MSNBC portrays President Trump a few steps away from impeachment; for conservatives, FOX has him as a likely candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize. And the internet is rife with ramblings disguised as fact. There should be an annual awards program for the most preposterous.
AM radio has become the voice of conservative outrage.
At our grandson Walker’s graduation from Eckard College in Florida the commencement speaker had some “outside the box” advice for his young audience: “Don’t spend a lot of time paying attention to the news. There’s not much you can do to change things, and it will probably just upset you.”
And maybe it’s been instrumental in driving us into our respective corners. This certainly puts a smile on the faces of our nation’s enemies, wouldn’t you guess?
On our vacations, Felicia and I refuse to watch TV news or pay attention to other sources such as Facebook. And at the end of our break we’re relaxed, and the world has kept right on turning.
Dick Tracy, who lives in Grass Valley, is a member of The Union Editorial Board. His views are his own and do not represent the views of The Union or its editorial board members. Contact him at EditBoard@TheUnion.com.
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