There are days – weeks, even – when I survey the output of newspapers, radio, television and the internet and see nothing but an ever-widening news hole being filled for no other reason than the need to fill the news hole. Every story strikes me as irrelevant. The ins and outs of officialdom—government activity, business deals, cops versus robbers—seem like they’re being recorded simply because it’s someone’s job to record them.
The alternative weeklies run cover stories about trends in arts and culture that seem doomed to insignificance. The blogs post fliers for the same old dance parties and make fun of the same people they always make fun of.
Some days, I’m just not interested. Like today.
Take, for example, the story in the Inquirer about a canceled meeting between Governor Rendell and the executives of companies involved in mining the Marcellus Shale. Rendell had invited the CEOs to a private meeting to discuss the possibility of taxing their activity. The CEOs declined the invitation. Rendell felt insulted. The CEOs released a statement about why they declined. The whole exchange was written up and published on the Inquirer’s Business page.
Phawker.com posted a link to a New York Daily News story about a Yale student jumping to his death from the Empire State Building. The story included quotes from pedestrians who’d witnessed his death: “He came down in front of the Bank of America. Boom! It was an explosion…”
I thought the story was a bad April Fools’ joke until I saw that it was posted on March 31st.
The Daily News printed a story about a “pimple-faced pervert” terrorizing a Northeast Philadelphia neighborhood. The City Paper and Philadelphia Weekly ran opinion pieces about the reactions of the city government and media to the recent flash mobs.
It all just seems like a habitual recitation of the “glut of occurrences,” to borrow a phrase. And I just want to say to the newspapers and websites and everyone else whose job it is to chronicle daily life: “Hey. Shh. Take a week off. Leave everyone alone for a few days. Let canceled meetings go unnoticed. Leave the Yale student dead on the sidewalk. Don’t make a controversy out of Curt Schilling criticizing the Phillies for releasing Cliff Lee. Just relax. It’s gorgeous outside. Print some pretty pictures of flowers in bloom and call it a day.”
But yet, it can’t be that way. If the Inquirer didn’t pay attention, the Governor and the natural gas companies would make a deal to enrich themselves, everyone else be damned. If nobody monitored the reaction to the flash mobs, the police would lock up every kid who walks in the street for convenience’ sake. The child molester in the Northeast would continue to reign terror on his witless victims.
The world needs its monitors.
So onward, media. Keep up the good—well, keep up the work. It’s a tough job, and sometimes it’s an obnoxious job, but somebody has to do it.
– Jared Brey