Saturday, April 09, 2005

 

Saturday news cycle

Just like the newspapers, my readership drops sharply on Saturday. (Check this sitemeter graph -- all the big dips are on the weekends.) I'm glad that you all have better things to do on the weekend than read blogs. Well, by "you all" I mean those of you who are not reading this post.

Like the newspapers, this is probably the day that I should post all those items in my personal news and comment cycle that I want to bury. Arguably I shouldn't post them at all -- but that's one of the great mysteries of blogging.

Here's something I'm not particularly proud of. I'm tired of pope coverage. Yes, he was the leader of a great world religion, and millions of people around the world are mourning his death. Yes, of course it's news. So will it be news as they discuss and then vote on the successor, with all the black smoke, white smoke stuff. I just wish it didn't have to basically preempt the entire front page above the fold. Couldn't they have a special pope section inside the paper?

Ironically, it took me about 6 months to deal with my grief over the 2004 election, a grieving process that included a personal news blackout, and I had just gotten back into regular newspaper reading when, lo and behold, the news cycle is taken hostage by the Terri Schiavo case and then the pope's death -- the kinds of news coverage that, while news, and while great for newspaper circulation, don't make me feel more well informed about the world.

I think what bothers me about stories like Schiavo and the pope is the kind of "mass mind" quality, the idea that everyone is (or should be) feeling and thinking the same basic thing in reaction to the story. We should all be enthralled with every detail of the pope's funeral; we should all agree that whether Terri Schiavo lives or dies is a question of great moment for our national public policy that we should all care deeply about. It was the same after 9/11 -- we should all be mind-numbingly "patriotic" in the wake of that disaster and unite behind President Bush's "leadership" and say that each and every last cop and firefighter in the entire country is a "hero" and put American flags on our lapels and car windows.

It's at times like these that I turn to The Onion. I will never forget how the first "news outlet" in the country to return to a critical-thinking framework after 9/11 was The Onion, which was issuing pertinent satire two weeks after the terrorist attacks.

The Onion is particularly good this week. News in Brief: "Terri Schiavo Dies of Embarassment." And from one of their lead stories: "Congress Awards Itself Congressional Medal of Honor," and the text quotes Tom Delay as saying "We've done a very good job this past year." Right on.

***

Comments:
Jesus, dude, 6 months of grieving over the election? I don't know if I should feel sorry for you or what. I don't understand why your emotions are so intertwined with politics. Presidents are short-term.

One of the main reasons Kerry was nominated was that he was "electable" and the Democratic mantra was "anybody but Bush." Maybe the Dems will do a better job next time and think twice about nominating someone for such a terrible reason.
 
I really enjoyed this post!(Dude). It was LIKE an article from the Onion. I completely agree with your sentiments about the pope/schiavo newsworthy stuff. I haven't blogged on the pope hype just because blogging on it makes me part of it (and b/c when I wrote something about "pope deathwatch tv" a couple of weeks ago, I got some nasty emails about my "sensitivity" to a subject that was out of my purview b/c I'm not catholic. Whatver. I guess we can only have an opinion on the "hype" if we are catholic). ....I was going to publish my new lyrics: "Goodbye Poland's Rose" but I thought better of it, and didn't want to pre-empt Elton John.
 
No, I don't have anything better to do on Saturdays, either.

I started reading blogs because they are less likely than the news to plunge me into deep depression.

The Onion's 9/11 issue was one of the great achievements of the 21st century. Though my all-time favorite headline remains, "God Refloods Middle East."

Does the print edition still carry the Stupid Drunk of the Week feature?
 
What you're saying is "I'm tired of the news that others find interesting." Because, of course, that's why it is printed. So don't read it. It's easy. There's a lot out there that I don't read, but if others, even the subscribers to the NYT, want it -- who am I to say "don't publish it?"
 
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