This afternoon, as I got out of bed, MSNBC, CNN Headline News and Fox were all carrying live helicopter coverage of a car chase on I-5 north of Los Angeles. I like to call this kind of stuff ‘news porn.’
The driver of the 1997 Saturn was wanted for suspicion of DUI (or so said the on-screen graphics). The car was doing the speed limit and staying within the lines on the Interstate.
I have no idea how this story ended. Time took its toll and I had to leave.
The story itself is so unimportant that there’s no real need to update America on what transpired. Which, of course begs the question – why cover it at all?
It all comes down to the definition of news. News used to mainly be about concepts and ideas. It is now much more event and celebrity oriented.
Events make for more compelling than nearly anything else… at least while the event’s in progress. Concepts are much more difficult a story to put on TV.
Events and celebrities are ‘low hanging fruit’ when you’re running a newsroom… even one that’s covering the entire nation.
I am sure this unimportant story was a much bigger draw than anything else these three networks could have chosen to run. It will be interesting to see how CNN’s main channel (running CNN International at this time) did in the ratings versus the other three.
I’ll admit, I couldn’t turn away.
How can I chastise these networks for what they ran when it was my own viewing choice? It’s easy to be critical. It’s much more difficult to be angry while they’re being practical.