Keeping up with the news

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 17, 2006

I’ve been trying to keep up with national news, but to tell you the truth, I’m not sure I want to hear anymore.

For a while, we couldn’t turn on the television without hearing about another suicide bombing in the Middle East, another pregnant wife or young mother who had been murdered and a young child who had gone missing.

(And most of those stories have a tragic ending).

Those stories usually depressed me, and sometimes I didn’t really want to know what was going on in the world. But, at least it was news.

Lately, things must be somewhat better in the Middle East, because all we’re hearing about on the news is whether or not Vice President Dick Cheney should be charged for accidentally shooting a fellow hunter and whether Michael Jackson should get to keep his kids.

National news actually makes me feel good about living in Selma, where the only “big news” we have to worry about is whether or not a fight will break out at a city council meeting. (We’re all still waiting for someone to draw first blood).

In the film “Fahrenheit 9-11,” director Michael Moore points out a negative aspect of the American media – they seem to try to scare the public to death. The more frightened we are, apparently, the more we watch the news programs. Therefore, the more money they make.

Going with the premise set by Moore, media must drive its ratings by keeping their viewers worried that they will:

A) Be the victim of a terrorist attack,

B) Catch a new, more deadly strain of the flu, or

C) Be the victim of either mad cow disease or the bird flu.

Of course, the chances are pretty good that none of these things will ever happen to the vast majority of us.

But, lately, the national news media is even worse – instead of trying to scare us to death, apparently, they’re trying to bore us to death.

Meanwhile, there are real issues, facing real people, here and throughout the world. And ignoring it doesn’t make it go away.

Perhaps it’s more entertaining for television news hounds to “debate” whether or not Cheney had a little “something” in his Dr. Pepper before he went out shooting with his buddies.

Cheney did shoot his friend. He admitted it. His friend, it appears, will survive.

It has been reported, as it should have been. But, can’t we let it go now?

While our American media dwells on that kind of “news,” there are other issues being faced by people around the world.

This past year, more than 3.1 million people worldwide died from AIDS, and 570,000 were children, according to the one.org Web site.

More than 1 billion people in the world live on less than $1 a day and 300 million of them live in Africa, according to the same site.

Here in the United States, we face our own issues of poverty, homelessness, lack of available healthcare for those with mental illness, sexual abuse, racism – all of which we should have eliminated from our society long ago.

Of course, there are good things that happen, too.

But, that’s for another column.

Meanwhile, if I’m going to watch the news, I’d like for it to be something that’s “newsworthy.”

What Dick Cheney did for kicks in high school is not.

TAMMY LEYTHAM is editor of The Selma Times-Journal.