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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Breaking News or Making News?

I am from Texas and, therefore, watch news about my home state. The most recent has been the coverage of Hurricane Ike. Many people have evidently lost their lives and the flooding damage will run in the billions. These deserve news coverage.

The speculation, however, gets to me. Of course, more time is spent on worst case scenarios than what is likely to happen. Reporters are placed in harms way to show the extent of the damage or the ferocity of the storm. One "expert" after another prognosticates where the storm will go, what the storm will do and what that will mean for the economy.

I have a crazy idea. Why not just report what we know? Why not give a greater picture of the storm? Show the places where the things are good along with where the things are bad. Don't put the reporters in dangerous places. After all, you really can't show how bad it is on a television screen anyway. Videos of an event are just not the same as being there.

Unfortunately, the media has always flourished when the news is bad. "If it bleeds; it leads," is the mantra of nightly news. People seem attracted to destruction. "You, too, can own the dvd of the end of the world as reported right here!"

Maybe the media got their cue from preachers. We have been telling the world that it was doomed for a long time. The greater our ability to say that bad things are coming; the greater our crowds. Of course, we have reversed that trend to go in exactly the opposite direction. Now, preachers are telling everyone that God is going to make them stinking rich. It brings more crowds than the disaster stories. Will the media pick up on this too?

Both preachers and the media need to tell the story more accurately than to sensationalize just for the sake of drawing a crowd. Speculation and sensationalism is making news rather than breaking news. This may make both sermons and news programs much shorter.

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