Related: Politics

So Much News…So Little Substance…

 
 

Ok, be honest, which headline will you click on first when you open today’s cnn.com?

Poll: Obama Surges Past Clinton in NH
US Seeks Solution as Kenya Toll Climbs
Clemens Open to Lie Detector Test
Man Killed and Cooked Girlfriend

I’m not sure if anyone has ever studied the “click first” rates of the headlines on news websites, but I suspect that the web editors (webitors?) throw in those shocking headlines just to be sure someone is paying attention.

In the 24/7 news cycles of contemporary life, there’s so much churn and noise that it’s almost impossible to carry a train of thought from one hour’s news to the next. The result is that all news winds up being equally trivialized, and everything seems like an arcade game with bells and whistles and screaming bright lights for a few seconds.

The most important headline in the sequence above is about the unfolding tragedy in Kenya. I wonder how many people actually are following that terrible story.

The most unsurprising headline in the group is about Obama in New Hampshire. Well, OF COURSE he is surging because the media have deemed it to occur. (Not a political statement, just an observation — he’s possibly the most exciting candidate on the scene, but let’s get real about the role of media in the campaign thus far.)

Headlines about athletes caught up in scandal, or grisly murders, are always sure bets to attract readers who can’t get enough of the seamy side of life. Some people “read the paper” just to get their daily dose — the Daily News and similar papers make money on this fascination.

Have fun with the popcorn, but don’t forget the main course — the international news may well be the most important background for our votes in the presidential election. And, let’s keep the media hype about all of the candidates in perspective. The electorate, not the editors, should be making the most important decisions about what we will do come November.

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Patricia A. McGuire, President, Trinity, 125 Michigan Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20017
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