The Girl in Black

Se necesita una poca de gracia.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Is there anybody out there to tell me what went wrong?

So I've been listening to the news on NPR a lot lately. I even finally became a public radio supporter during the last drive. I saved public radio! Yes!

I've always preferred the NPR news shows to any other format. I found it refreshing to not be constantly bombarded by television's talking heads and advertisements. I rarely find reading the paper to be interesting. And I've always felt that most of the media has some sort of agenda. But more often than not I've found that NPR is just good background noise. It's better "company" than television, and occasionally I can pay attention and learn something about what's going on.

The "background noise" concept has bugged me on and off, though. It's important stuff they're telling me (usually), and I just let it float through my head half the time. Why didn't I get as drawn in as I had with television?

This morning it hit me. Public Radio isn't telling me what to think. There aren't any adjectives describing how "horrible" or "wonderful" something is. Judgement and opinion are reserved for editorials and interviews. The anchors let the stories and the guests do the talking. They do run little music clips in between stories that sometimes reflect the mood of the piece, but unless it's a particularly and obviously sad story the clips tend to be more amusing to me than anything else. Their listeners respond with their opinions on the news coverage, and these opinions get voiced on the air! NPR wants me to decide what I think about what's going on!

Only, I've been so used to the usual flash and trash of the television news media that I don't know what to think about anything anymore.

Did I ever? Does anyone anymore? How many people really make up their own minds? Most of us succumb to suggestion. Just look at how many people honestly believe that Fox News is "fair and balanced" simply because they tell us so. Look at how any television news anchor throws in opinions and descriptions for the sake of having a personality on the air. It has the same effect as canned laughter in bad sitcoms.

I don't think we don't know anything anymore unless someone tells us what to know, and this is a travesty of human accomplishment. It's the blind leading the blind for the sake of a little more entertainment and excitement to compete with all of the rest of the razzle dazzle media out there. It's become a mental prison of our own making, and I'm making a break for it.

And just to make it clear, "liberals" aren't the only ones getting their news from NPR either. Two of my respected family members are Republicans, and they listen avidly to not just the news, but a lot of the other shows as well. They donate money too, more than I have. I don't think it's just the "liberals" listening, I think it's really the "smart people" listening. The people tired of all the rest of the crap out there, the ones tired of being beaten over the head. So you know what? I'm going to sit back with my french press coffee (because we don't all drink lattes you know), and I'm going to listen to my public radio, and I'm going to start thinking for myself again.

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