Wednesday, September 15, 2010


A revoultionary way of presenting news that will most likely never happen...

At a time when suicide rates are on the increase and more and more people are succumbing to the stresses and strains of modern day life, it's surely about time that we looked at how we receive news from the various media forms available to us now.

Regardless of whether we keep up to date via newspapers, websites, radio or TV the headlines invariably consist of abject misery and despair, with a unhealthy mix of scandal and corruption thrown in for good measure. Why do we allow ourselves to be subjected to this trauma on a daily basis? We already know that unemployment levels are at an all time high, we're fully aware of the fact that babies are dying of starvation and illness in Third World countries, we've heard so many tales about the extra curricular activites of Catholic priests in this country that it's almost impossible to be outraged anymore, granted the latest natural disasters occurring throughout the world do offer a limited macabre shock value, and the sordid exploits of whomever has been caught with their hand in their own peculiar brand of cookie jar do titillate somewhat, but surely we deseve better from the people charged with informing us of events worldwide on an daily, nay hourly basis.

At the end of any hourly news bulletin, or sometimes shoehorned into the 24 hours stations, is what the newsreaders like to tell us is the 'feel good' story of the day. This righteous tale usually documents the plucky antics of a local hero who's come good against all odds, or perhaps a miracle birth from a species considered on it's last legs, with requisite shots of the miracle ball of fluff for extra aaahh factor, or even a humourous parable involving a botched crime replete with youtube video and sheepish perpetrator. But why should this all too brief nugget of joy be something that's only added as an afterthought, in an attempt to make us forgot about the 52 minutes of misery that came beforehand and leave us chuckling softly into our mug of tea, why can't we have that warm feeling resident in our bellies for the duration of the news? It's the same when you open a newspaper, with hard hitting headlines coming at you a dizzying pace until you reach the dark recesses of page 27, and there all of a sudden lies a story of a cat that weighs almost as much as it's owner, tee hee. The way internet users access their news is so diverse across all levels that it's almost unfair to criticise how it's presented to us on that particular outlet, but a quick scan of any of the major news corporation websites tells you that the trend continues unabated online.

Of course for some people, and maybe in fact most people, the way the news is delivered to us is pitch tone perfect and they quite frankly wouldn't have it any other way. These are the kind of people who talk exclusively about the aforementioned misery and despair, whether it's happening to poor Mrs Maguire down the road of thousands of helpless children in Pakistan, and have no interest in hearing about anything that may in any way lighten their mood, as that could lead to them being cheerful for a second ot two which would be anathema to their way of living. These people can be left to their own devices and are welcome to swim in a pit of negativity for the rest of their days so long as they keep it to themselves. But what about the rest of us, those of us who turn on the news, get thirty seconds in and think 'Ah fuck this, not more talk about the recession' and swiftly change over to The Simpsons, or those of us who open a newspaper and think ' I don't care who Rooney's rattling, for Christ sakes', what are we to do?

Already news is broken down into segments, I'll have the sports section please, with your Sunday newspaper resembling an intricate puzzle game where the challenge is to find something, anything which may be of interest, Business sections, Culture sections (are the film reviews in that? I dunno, sure check it and see), Media sections (surely the reviews will be in this bit then), World news sections, Property sections (who plans on buying a house on a Sunday?!?) and various other needless, superflous sections which are discarded within seconds of discovery. Woe betide anyone who turns on the news looking for details on a specific story, said story will appear in the headlines and you'll sit there patiently waiting to be informed by the nice lady whom you'd give anything to see away from her desk, as you suspect the posterior she sits upon to be pertness personified. Ten minutes in and still no sign of her attempting to enlighten you, but she's just promised you that as soon as you endure four minutes of adverts you've seen umpteen times she'll tell you all you need to know, we return from the break and it's not even her talking, it's her smarmy smug faced sidekick with his tie that matches her dress, telling you more about the story that they bored you with ten minutes ago! So if the newsgroups are willing to compartmentalise every titbit of info into the most tenuous of categories, why can't they do us a favour and break it down into two solitary types, the good news and the bad news?

How it would work is thus, you turn on the six o clock news and are faced with the customary stern faced newsreaders who announce with deathly intonations 'And here's todays bad news', at which point they inform all the bloodthirsty, doom mongers of the stories which will form the basis of all their conversations until whatever time they feel their despair lightening and come back for more. Once all the trauma and horror has been dished out in a manner similar to that of a public flogging, it's time for us more upbeat folk to tune in as it's time for the good news! The good news is immediately differentiated from it's morose predecessor, due to the funky intro music and the sight of it's two presenters casually draped over a couch, dressed in whatever clothes they found on the floor of their bedroom that morning. They announce the feel good stories of the day with an air of people who know they're amongst friends, and the symbiance between presenter and viewer is palpable throughout. This style of reporting could even be applied to staple sections like the sports news and the weather, if your team lost or your star striker has slapped in a transfer request then bah you don't need to hear about it, but if your parasitic owners have finally admitted defeat and are selling up then bring it on baby! Similarly for the weather, if it's due to rain all week then there will be a short announcement at the end of the good news, simply stating 'Unfortunately there will be no weather this week, have a nice day', ignorance would indeed be bliss. Even a trip to your local newsagents would be a different experience as you browse the newstands, guiltily tempted to read all about the escaped prisoner with a penchant for eating mutilated body parts, but instead plumping for the daily edition of your good newspaper of choice, swayed by the front cover consisting of a smiling baby and a remarkably cheerful looking orangutan.

We can all accept that there's terrible atrocities being commited all day long, every day of the year, as it's always been thus, but personally I don't feel the need to be forcefed pictures of terrified people enduring what is effectively hell on earth, and similarly I care not for tales of woe concerning some 'tortured soul' who's only sin was to be human, spare me the details I don't want to hear about it. How often in your daily routine do you hear something that genuinely lightens your mood and makes you marvel at the magnificence of man, a life affirming moment if you will, I'd wager that it's not half enough so just think how marvellous it would be if you could sit down to a solid half an hour of stories of that very nature on a daily basis. Scoff all you like, but personally I shan't be watching the news again until I'm guaranteed something that will lighten the load and restore my faith in humanity.

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