Coping: Does “the News” Matter?

image Here’s a short conversation that’s really something to think about:

Why do we humans have such a predilection with following “the news?”

I know why I do it:  I was a newscaster in a top 15-market by age 21.  News Director of an AM/FM combo in the same top 15-market (Seattle) by age 23.  And I stayed in the news game for a fair period of time:  13-years, almost to the day.

In the process, I had met one president (Gerald Ford), learned to play poker on a corporate Lear jet from the then-head of the Senate Armed Services committee, met every politician and porn star of the 1970-1983 that I cared to, and (most fortunately for me) many of the finest writers of the era.  Bach, Gann, Michener, L’Amour…the list goes on seemingly forever.

Every day was a rush.  Not always in the adrenaline way, although being pinned down by gunfire, dropping by a mass murder scene, or sitting in the first couple of rows at a headliner tour – that was cool and all.

But in the end, what did all that time “chasing down the news” mean.

You might have guessed by that new favorite song I hinted at in the column Monday, I’m still self-aware enough to ask “Once in a While”  what am I doing?

I actually made a list of things that UrbanSurvival has been about – and it is a changing list from what we are doing around here today.

Back in the day when this site was started up, the content was almost 100% financial  with a heaping order of Long Wave Economics.  That’s not a huge audience-builder, though, so we evolved into the study of future events – something that continues largely thanks to the good graces of Grady who keeps evolving the code for our site.

Yet curiously, some of the best insights into the future around here come from every-day dreams.  But isn’t it a bit of a stretch to make life decisions based on something as flimsy was dreams?

Of course.

If I had to put it all in a single bucket today, I figure UrbanSurvival should be mostly about making sense of the news.

A long time ago, I remember talking to a reporter who worked for one of the All News operations in the early days.  Ron was his name.  Damn fine reporter who later died prematurely of one of those diseases we all hope we never get.

He was telling me one day about what a major consulting firm had been talking with the news and assignment editors about.  Basically it came down to health, heart, and pocketbook – the second time I heard it was from another reporter I’d hired – a fellow by the name of Frank who is also a widely published science fiction writer in addition to being a highly skilled communicator.

Health, heart, and pocketbook may not seem to take in all of it; and obviously it does not.  It’s close, though.

There are some base human instincts that come into play while watching the news.  Elaine, being a typical (well-read) human watches the news on, oh, CBSgo for example and I can almost see her weighing each story that comes by.

It’s almost like she’s looking for some way to fit the information into her life in a meaningful way.

I went through the headlines on Google Monday afternoon to summarize the news – as it pertains to Elaine.  Here’s what I came up with:

Michael Bloomberg is not running president.  E likes Trump, and she knows Bloomberg has no chance, so this is a fine example of what I like to toss on the bonfire of useless news. 

Drudge went even further with “Bloomberg Bails on ‘16 Bid.”  Read my lips:  Most people who make a billion, or so, aren’t stupid.  GMAFB.

Sanders says Clinton is mischaracterizing his stance on the auto bailout.  Check me on this:  I only know two people who will be voting for Bernie, only one who will vote for Clinton and everyone else is about 60-40 Trump over Cruz.  So how is this “useful data?”

Hacker ‘Guccifer’, who uncovered Clinton emails, extradited to USA… This might verge on interesting, if you were his insurance agent and sold him a high dollar whole life policy.

Did Nancy Reagans War on Drugs Backfire?  No, we enjoyed them very much.  Seriously?  Sure, it’s worth knowing that Nancy Reagan passed.  It’s not worth it to go into a media whores dress up like paid mourners deal about it.  Screw that.  Great woman, gone, end of story except for the Wiki entry.  Since the media are scrambling to all search out the definitive last word, how about I help ‘em?  Dead.  Sort of sums it up, don’t it?

Payton Manning announcement retirement from the NFL.  Another useless bit of news unless you are his accountant, or he’s a beer-drinking buddy.  But do you really want to live in a country where people speak nonsensical statistical gibberish about sports?  No?

Amazon plans to open a physical bookstore in San Diego.  Not news for us and it’s too far to drive.

North Korea threatens nuke strike on U.S. and South Korea.  The old man did it and nothing happened.  Kid’s going to do it, too, unless someone takes him out back.  Is it worth worrying about?  Only if you are an F-117 driver or Pentagon war gamer.  The rest of us can go back to our meditation.

The Libyan War may spill over into Tunisia.  There goes another neighborhood, expansion of the global caliphate and all.  But ultimately the whole Middle East and North Africa is a sidewalk fair for arms dealers..  Our only involvement is paying for it and there we don’t have any choice.

Naked dancing woman on top of big rig ties up 290 traffic in Houston,  This is only useful at the time it happened so hitting the wires doesn’t do anything useful except for amusement value.

Like  “Oh, see, people are crazy in Houston, too…” which we’ve long known.  This is like another thumb on the scale is all.

Young woman who survived Boston Marathon bombing killed in Dubai car crash.  So sorry.  I didn’t know her, you didn’t know her.  This is a fine example of the media making up great stories out of useless data points flowing into our eyes.  What was she doing in Dubai?  THAT is the only thing that would make the story interesting, but the WaPo didn’t come to that.  Just that it was a personal trip.  To freaking DUBAI???  Awe, come on, tell me something useful…

Is the world any better of a place for stories like this about Kim Kardashian?  I don’t think that’s too difficult to answer, is it?

So if there a point to this morning’s short lil rant?

I’ll leave it to you:

1)  None.  I think it’s important that I overdose on useless information and I really need to know because when a Pacific storm sweeps ashore and brings rain to Arizona, and a cooling trend to West Text, and then lights up thunderstorms in the ArkLaTex, then moves into Mississippi where it throws up 250 mobile homes and kills three…why that’s something I need to know about at least 4 days in advance so I can plan my commute on I-95 in Broward County/Miami…

2)  Yeah, I get it. 90% of the so-called news is really useless shit that we can’t do anything about so why fill up your mind with stuff that you can’t translate to advantage?  I turn off Caitlin and Kardashian stories already.  But I’m down with the reminder.

There…now, while I wait for my blood pressure to come back to normal, I will do some directed meditations with Zeus the Cat.  Go price that new theremin on Amazon. .

Here, kitty, kitty.  Seen my meds?

Write when you break-even or break out of the news addiction…


16 thoughts on “Coping: Does “the News” Matter?”

  1. Just goes to show even when you are victim of like an actual terrorist attack that you are more likely to die in a car accident. Car accidents, falls at home, burns and illness that’s what gets most of us.

    What do you say we allocate our limited resources in direct proportion to the actual risks we face rather than the boogie boogie woogedy men we create to hold us captive to our nightmares?

  2. I’ve found radio to be a much better choice and you can ignore the useless fluff easier. We have a very good station here in DC, WMAL, and I hear things that never get to the telly.

  3. Absolutely ‘georgeous’ — the essay that is!

    However, who writes these annoying headlines (like “the country is in shock” and/or is in mourning) for the news stories?

    • Those “people” are what I call the media whores who wouldn’t know a real story if it came up and bit ’em on the ass. They are merely the current iteration of Rip & Read (off the wire) news from the old days. Hand them a press release and a 20 second talking head clip and they will go away happy…

  4. “””Coping: Does “the News” Matter?”””

    I personally love the news.. I read the same story from several area’s and countries.. then take what is the same in each story.. the rest is crap fill and speculation..
    for me keeping an eye on that.. and no I don’t look at front page news.. the last page news that has serious meaning.. it is like a chess board and each one in place gives shows you what is really going on under the surface…
    Like our government.. is like a corporation you have
    the ceo.. the board of directors and then each department head then the employees.. doesn’t really have anything to do with anything.. its the puppet masters that are controlling the show.. trying to figure out what they have decided for the vast majorities fates is the big question and the only way you can find that out is to see how the news flows and where the chips are going to fall.. of course this is only my opinion

    • I think that is personally why we have such a shallow congress.. they no longer write or read the bills they vote on.. because they are just going to vote the way the puppet masters want.. in a way its kind of like having a tornado warning.. why tell the people a tornado or violent storm is heading their way.. in the end.. I think its so the people know the storm is coming.. so they can prepare for the devastation from that storm.. take the guide stones.. is that the ultimate message from the puppet masters??? who will they decide.. then read the book zweitsbuch by adolph.. when you suggested that for reading it was an eye opener and the scary part is you can lay it next to any newspaper and see how it compares to what is going on right now.. then the elephant in the room.. the spending bill.. was that the nail in the coffin.. looks like it sure won’t help to me.. but then I am one of the bottom feeders.. I take what is dished out to me and try to survive the storm..

  5. Perhaps all the “news” dribble is really about distracting the masses? So that they fill their minds with useless information so as not to have enough room or time for the useful info? So that the masses keep their eyes on the ‘shiny objects’ instead of the stuff that is truly relevant and important?

  6. I like watching the corporate news. Usually I’ve already known what happened (due to alternative news sites) and it’s interesting to see the spin, what important facts they omit to lead people to a false conclusion, etc.
    Case in point: I’d already seen the Trump footage when he said there should be no more Muslims let in until they are vetted to weed out terrorists. When it played on NBC, they cut the audio feed after the word “Muslims” and then did an artsy-fartsy light balloon faded-out which obscured the fact that he was still speaking/qualifying his statement.
    I’d better not even get started on the Boston Bombing (but feel like an idiot for not even noticing the elephant on the oft-played footage).

  7. The quality of the MSM news stories is at an all time low. The Yahoo home page is littered with inane poorly written “articles” and increasingly more “sponsored” ads disguised as stories.

    Also seeing an increase in outright lies due to liberal bias and/or lack of research. The treatment given to Ahmed the “Clock Boy” is a good example, almost every story still says he “invented” a clock when all he did was pull the circuit board from a factory clock and deliberately make it look like a bomb in order to taunt the school officials and then initiate a big lawsuit. Apparently wishful thinking blocked reporting the real truth. Fooling ourselves is not going to help figure out what is going on.

  8. I’ve been addicted to the news since the assassinations of Pres. Kennedy, MLK, and brother Robert. It’s like I feel compelled to check in as much as possible to catch the latest surprise. And, now that it is possible to compare the corporate media with alternative sources, it has become seriously time-consuming.

    I have always felt personally affected by the news. I was an anti-war activist during the Vietnam War, a participant in the Civil Rights movement, and follower of Mike Rupert’s “From the Wilderness” blog. I read your columns every morning to begin my day. I guess it is going to take an EMP blast to kick my addiction to the internet.

  9. Where do journalists come from? They are manufactured in America’s universities in a liberal arts curriculum.

    Mark Mathis
    Feeding the media beast

    News is a product of the liberal arts ‘educated’.

    • Which is why I enjoy watching the circus, so much. While you’re right, most are libby artty, there are a few of us with business degrees and engineering backgrounds which matters very much when knowledge is being “engineered”

  10. Why do I watch the news?

    From beginning of humanity (and frankly before) mankind has been interested in the ‘goings-on’of fellow human beings because we are inherently noisy and want to know why things are happening, and a few of us try to make sense of life.

    I was born in a world that at first I didn’t understand – At age five, I thought Eisenhower was ‘president of the world’ and I was more interested in science and history than the mess that is current politics. That changed with the death of President Kennedy – there seemed to be a shift in focus for the United States (though thinking about it, it may be more connected to the Vietnam War.)

    Since then I have followed ‘the news’ – certain aspects have the attraction of watching two locomotives hurdling toward each other. You know there is going to be a horrible wreck eventually with much fatality – and perhaps life as we know it will end. If one can’t control the outcome, at least one can say, ‘I knew that was going to happen.’

    Foreknowledge may not automatically be Forearming, but it can be Forewarning . . .

  11. Maybe I missed it or, I’m just too stupid to have seen it implied. Or perhaps the point was to just tickle us with a useless article on useless articles? Just a friendly jab followed by a LOL George.

    Thanks for all the real work you do for us.

    Frankly, I think all the useless spittle that dribbles out of the key boards of today’s “reporters” is planned diversion to keep our thoughts off the little men/women behind the proverbial curtain.

  12. The news on “TV” is all about social engineering, sensationalism and distraction IMO.

    Ferguson–I thought it was interesting that Cosby sex case arose in full bloom just about the time Ferguson was boiling over last summer. Had Cosby been able to opine about a subject near and dear to his heart, he would have verbally slammed the victim and blasted Hip Hop again and some other culture as well. Just one example.

    If you cross check international news with the news here in the states, you begin to see a different picture IMO.

    Growing up in the 50’s, my Dad use to say to me “Believe only half of what you see and nothing that you hear.”? Edgar Allan Poe

    And…don’t believe everything you read in the newspaper.My Dad.

    Except for George Ure :)

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