Television News and me
 Television was a much bigger deal when I was young. For one thing, we only got two stations out in the sticks- NBC and PBS.  For another, it remained switched off most of the time.  Our television was fancy- a color set in a big wooden cabinet.  Most of the time it was just another big piece of furniture with a doily, candles, and (in season) a vase of flowers on top. But, when supper was finished and the dishes washed and dried by hand, we would gather in the living room for the local news, followed by the national news.
  I paid much closer attention to the national news than a young kid probably should have. We didn't get Cronkite, but John Chancellor, David Brinkley, Irving R. Levine, and crew did just fine by me. It was straight reporting, without discernable bias or spin, delivered in adult language, aimed at literate grown-ups.  For some reason, I was keenly interested in adult conversation.  Nowadays that would mean X-rated conversation, but back then it meant grown-ups talking about government, taxes, agriculture, business, wars, science and space travel.  Most of it was way over my head, but I was determined to crack the code.  One day in grammar school, a teacher finished her lesson about 10 minutes early and asked if any of us had any questions about anything. My hand shot up and I asked her to explain how the Stock Market works. Her look of surprise and confusion was unforgettable, but to her credit she gave a quick overview of the fundamentals.  Teachers want to teach when students want to learn, and vice-versa.
  Television news had a certain seriousness and decorum in the 60's and 70's that has completely disappeared.  There was a heavy emphasis on reporting the workings of government, the economy, the space program, the Vietnam conflict, natural disasters, the fuel crisis, and national accomplishments and failures.  I don't remember much finger-pointing or "blamestorming", even during Watergate- just reporting the facts of that cover-up was sufficient. There wasn't much time for sports or entertainment "news" on the evening broadcasts- it was tacked on at the very end (where it belonged), as filler on a "slow news day". 
  One could rant interminably about how "popular culture" and entertainment bread and circuses have diluted journalism; how slang, buzzwords and soft-core profanity have replaced "adult conversation" (my Mom still cringes when someone says "That sucks"); how the line between straight reporting and editorialism is intentionally blurred, if not erased...and so on.
  Let it suffice that the only television news programs that come close to what we used to have is from foreign countries- notably the BBC.  "...and that's the way that it is".
  
  
 

Comments:
 
frederic   frederic wrote
on 7/21/2009 9:38:06 PM
To make this work as is, without a major overhaul, you have to emphasize the character of the narrator. Why do I care about this blase individual's sense of the news? I don't. And you need to add character to improve that aspect. It reads like a typical high school student's opinion on the nightly news. Which is not a short story, in my opinion.

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