Monday, April 09, 2007

Panning for Gold

Reading the Sunday Scribblings of others, I am reminded that there are golden nuggets to be found among the muddy sand of our modern news options. The trick is to find them without losing your mind.

This is from a poster I made for a talk on e-mail spam that I gave at work. The idea is to find the real mail messages amid the vast amount of spam. Over 90% of the e-mail messages addressed to my business are marked by our systems as spam and viruses. My fellow professional computer geeks maintain a number of tools to automatically filter out as much of the garbage as possible.

I'm sure you have seen people who are incapable of putting down their cell phones. Those who can't seem to exist for more than a few minutes without needing to talk to someone, or at the very least check their voice mail to see what they may have missed. The ones who have nothing better to entertain themselves with on the commuter trains, although everyone else subject to the train-end of the conversation is aware that there is no real information being conveyed. "Hi, what's up? ... Oh, nothing. ... I don't know, what do you think? ... I didn't think so. ... Where is that? ... I'm loosing you. I'll call on the other side of the tunnel. ... Bye!"

And the people who have the television playing every single second of every single day, even if they aren't really watching it.

I think those actions are for comfort - filling what might otherwise be a quiet time.

But after a while I think it all becomes a kind of white noise. Possibly comforting, but otherwise meaningless.

I find most TV and radio and print newspapers to be the same - a kind of blur of white noise filling their minutes or pages. And I hear the budgets at the TV and radio and newspapers are being squeezed, with the reporters, those who generate the stories we want to hear, being lost at an alarming rate. Instead, ever more news outlets are buying their stories from ever fewer news gatherers.

And based on the results, I have to guess that ever more people making the decisions about what to air or print are influenced more by financial decisions and not from a desire to provide information to the public who will then have to make decisions based on that info.

And so, the TV is full of white noise, with little new information, with little difference between the stations (who are all telling the same "this outta be a good seller" stories). And the radio is full of white noise, with little new information, the same stories repeated every 15 minutes or half-hour for two or three days until newer stories take their place. And the newspaper is filled with ever more ads to keep the advertisers happy instead of actual news for the readers, with much of the news coming from the same shrinking pool of reporters working for the agencies that are still in the business of gathering news.

I am reminded by bloggers such as Tara at that there are still reporters gathering and reporting news they care about.

I am reminded by Miss Iyer at that some of the most cherished news is that which is personal.

A number of bloggers remind me that I am not alone in my frustration. That on too many days a number of us see only the dark, muddy, sand of not-really-important white noise, instead of the golden nuggets of honest information.

1 comment:

sarala said...

The news is there. As you say, there is just too much spam out there. Thanks for visiting.