Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Big News: Nothing Happened

On the inside of my bedroom door I have a newspaper clipping from the National Post. I found this story one morning when I opened my paper and looked at the front page news. The headline reads:

"Orphans Not as Malnourished as Novel Characters: Dickens' Oliver Twist Was Well Fed!"

The story then goes on to describe how a recent study shows that the gruel eaten by Oliver Twist and Nicolas Nickleby was in fact very satisfying. The writer, bless their heart, tells the story with the style I would use being the sole discoverer of a government consiracy. Imagine the scandal of someone exaggerating in fiction!

I kept the article not only because it makes me laugh, but because I find it to be a great motivational tool. While I no longer wish to be a journalist, I am happy to be reminded everyday as I walk out my door that slow news days (or their equivalents) happen to everyone.

As a journalist, and now just as a regular human being, I have definite opinions about the news and it's reporting. One of my biggest beefs is when people tell me they don't listen to the news because it's depressing, or they can't listen to the radio because they just talk about traffic jams. What do people think the news is going to talk about?

"This morning, a man drove down Deerfoot Trail on his way to work and made it there on time."

"Last night, a woman walked home and made it there safely."

That's not NEWS. News is when something unexpected happens that is out of the ordinary.

I raised this opinion with plenty of my journalism classmates and teachers, and they all agreed. However, this does not seem to the opinion of the Calgary media. This morning on my drive to school, I heard the following "news" on two separate radio stations.

Why is it news that someone was not injured by flying debris? Okay yes, it's an unsafe construction site, but they're leading with the story of a non-injury. People get scratches on their cars all the time. The lane of traffic that should have been closed strikes me as an interesting fact, but really Calgary? Scratched cars are not news.

I thought you were better than that.


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Katey said...

If you liked the Dickensian headliner, then you'll love the one in the NAtional Post awhile back: apparently Anne of Green Gables had ADD! Sigh.