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News media: fascinated with fatality
by David Farside
Aug 12, 2013 | 1937 views | 0 0 comments | 110 110 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Last Wednesday,  I received word a long-time friend was caught in the hands of the dreaded Grim Reaper. We graduated from high school together in 1955. Since then, we lived our lives apart, raised our families and learned life’s lessons of growing up, parenting, responsibility, commitment and the aging process the hard way. I’ll miss her.

Sitting in front of the TV, reminiscing about days gone by, I drowned my sorrow in a glass of wine. By the time I started on the second glass, the evening news broke my chain of thought and it was probably just as well that it did. But watching the happening of the day, I realized that news programs spend less air time reporting the happening of an event and more time on social commentary dwelling on death, tragedy, fatality and personal circumstances of the victims. 

One example: If a house goes up in flames in the middle of a forest fire, TV cameras show us one minute of the fire and four minutes of interview with the owner of the house with tears in her eyes explaining how she will miss the dead cat and her family heirlooms. Why is that news? Of course she is sad. What is she going to say? Oh! I’m glad all my memories are burned to ash and I never liked the dam cat anyway.

Interviewing victims of tragedy is not news. It is social commentary. Eye witness accounts of events is news. Edited opinions of how it affects individuals personally is a method used in propaganda and a waste of time.

Thinking about my friend reminded me that the longer we live, the more family and friends we lose to the Reaper. Thanks to TV, we are surrounded by and always reminded of our illness and inevitable fatal ending.

Drug advertisements warn us of side effects that could kill us even though the disease was cured. Half of nighttime programming is about death, murder and tragedy. Every time I try to watch the sports news on Channel 8 KOLO news I have to see a commercial on how reasonably priced funeral services are and cremation is only a phone call away. That sure takes my mind off of discomforts in life.

When we are young and healthy we think we will never get sick or old. We are indestructible and usually poke a little fun at the elderly and sick people in general. And there is nothing wrong with that. Young people should not have to think about the limitations of life. They should enjoy and appreciate their generation and not think or worry about the inevitable.

As we get old and get closer to the time line of infinity, we spend more of our time seeing doctors, attending funerals and visiting friends in hospitals. We would rather not be reminded every day of our fate. But as long as television programming and the media have this fascination with fatality and finality, there is no way to avoid it.

David Farside is political activist and Sparks resident.
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