Saturday, June 30, 2012

Bullshit News

by Bill Holmes

While watching the Rangers game tonight I realized (again) what BS passes for news or information. The game tonight was on Fox, not Fox Sports or FSSW, but the big national network that broadcasts, well I don't know what they broadcast but I'm sure it's wonderful programming.  That means that we get high quality, knowledgeable national network announcers.  Tonight it was Kenny Albert and Tom Verducci.  They are not terrible but they don't really know what's going on. They probably got to town last night, read the local papers and formed all their impressions and opinions of both teams. Tom was gushing about the Rangers the first couple of innings until they got behind. You know they don't follow the Oakland A's because nobody does.

The previous national broadcast of a Rangers game was terrible. They didn't know the teams at all, failed to correct obvious mistakes and sometimes didn't complete sentences when they either couldn't come up with the factoid or realized they went down the wrong path.

This phenomenon is not limited to sports.  It's probably even worse in news broadcasts.  A disaster or tragedy occurs and the area fills up with national reporters.  The other thing is when a specific area of human endeavor is reported on.

If you are from the area where the reports are emanating or are familiar with the subject of the report you notice the errors, misconceptions or other BS.  I'm sure doctors cringe at health reports.   

I've seen reports about technology (I've was a professional geek for 40+ years) that have no idea what they're talking about.  The errors cut both ways.  Sometimes they tout capabilities that don't exist and sometimes they don't realize the capability has been around for years.

We all have limited general knowledge and even less expert knowledge.  If most reports I see on subjects I know about are full of errors and BS, how can I trust the reports I see on the 95% of stuff I don't know about?

I think the local paper is still the best way to get information about where you live.  The reporters are not under pressure to put sexy video on the 6:00 news.  I also fear that the local paper and the reporters are a vanishing breed.  Besides the reporters, the newspaper editors, columnists and Op-Ed writers usually have time to take a breath before their stuff reaches the public.  They also have to stay in the community after their report.  They live in the area and can't leave right after the story.  Diane Sawyer, Brian Williams, Scott Pelley and their minions leave town about 30 seconds after the cameras are turned off.

Soundbite, superficial and gotcha reporting is a bane on all of us.  Reporting on celebrity activities, reality shows, The View, Entertainment Tonight, etc. is not news.  I realize that a celebrity divorce is vitality important to the world order, but so are the massacres in Syria or the economic meltdown in Greece or the plight of the middle class in the USA or a local election.

I'm going to watch the rest of the baseball game, continue to watch national news and read the local paper.  Information is important and worthwhile.  I just wish it was more accurate.


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