by The Inmate
Oliver: Good Monsieur Charles, what’s the new news at the new court?
Charles: There’s no news at the court, sir, but the old news . . .
—William Shakespeare, As You Like It
I wanted to write this essay many months ago, but the local news is such a necessity and so prolific that there is little time for trivialities such as writing, reading, thinking, working for a living, playing with children, talking with spouses or updating web sites. This is, of course, a beneficial thing because what good could come from these wasteful activities?
However, now that our local news seems to be in reruns I have plenty of time to sit at my desk for a few minutes. The news is that fewer and fewer people are watching the local news. What a travesty! The world, I guess, will continue to be full of uninformed people. I continue to watch especially now that stories are short and keep getting shorter. Those in-depth five-minute stories are just too boring and too hard to follow. In the San Diego Weekly Reader, Thomas Larson quipped, in his article “Making News,” about the possibility of news being “quieter, reflective and thoughtful.” How demeaning! Why should I or anyone else have to think while watching television? The news does a much better job of it and saves me a hell of a lot of time for other things–like the national news. Let those anchor people earn their money. I am reminded of Faber’s words to Montag in Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, when speaking of the “televisor.” He said, “It must be right. It seems so right.” Bradbury, of course, missed the point (those damned writers always do). It is right. The news tells me what is important. How would I know to bolt my doors and lock my windows and suspect all strangers without the local news? How would I know about the weather (I’m indoors all day watching the news) without the news. And what would I do with my time? Even with KGTV’s (a local San Diego station) 6 1/2 hours a day I feel like I’m behind. Keeping up with the world is a full time job. Thank God for the leadership of the local news. Without it we’d all be a lousy fathers, husbands and employees.
In the same article by Larson a cameraman had concerned himself with touching people, because it might make them act differently. Such concerns are unnecessary. Camera people shouldn’t even be afraid of the influence the camera has on its subjects. The reality is that the camera makes people real. Go anywhere and watch anyone who is not on camera and they’re just not convincing as people, but watch, for example, a corporate video. People just don’t get more real than that! I, myself, have set up a video camera in my house so that I will be a true person (I can edit out what I don’t like later). Most of the world is one giant illusion, a manufactured image. Only the camera’s presence makes people and events authentic, which is another reason I so enjoy watching the news: I get to see sincere, genuine people and history as it really happens. I learn how I should act. I need reality in my life, not all the fake stuff that happens to me when I’m not watching the news.
To all you hard-working, knowledge-seeking, truth-loving, ethical local news people: keep up the good work! Will somebody let me know when the reruns are over?
- Shakespeare, William, As You Like It, Act 1, Scene 1
- Larson, Thomas, “Making News,” San Diego Weekly Reader, Editor, Jim Holman, Volume 29, Number 37, September 14, 2000. Article appears on pages 1 and 36-59. Quote appears on page 41.
- Bradbury, Ray, Fahrenheit 451, Del Rey, A Del Rey Book, Ballantine Books, a division of Random House, Inc., 1991, pg. 84.
- note: the preceding was adapted from a letter I wrote to the San Diego Weekly Reader. It appeared in the October 12, 2000 issue in their “Letters” section.