I posted two sentences' worth of venting about this on my Facebook page, but I didn't vent enough to get it out of my system.
I don't generally watch the local news. I don't generally watch the national news either, for that matter. I tend to rely on the internet these days, which means I'm one of the millions who have contributed to the decline of newspapers. My somewhat sincere apologies to all of you whose jobs are in jeopardy because of the likes of me, although I do get the local paper on weekends (Simon "needs" the sports section) and I get the Wall Street Journal daily (Ron needs the marketing and finance news). Besides, I worked at a newspaper for a year after college, and although it wasn't exactly the best experience of my life, I do have a lingering fondness for the smell of newsprint and the ink on my fingers.
But to TV news, I offer no such apologies, sincere or otherwise. And here is why:
You have completely lost touch with what qualifies as news.
Last night's lead story, which I only caught because I had already seen that episode of "King of Queens" twice, was "Chimp at Brookfield Zoo dies from mysterious ailment." The mysterious ailment? Pneumonia. Now, I'm no medical historian, but I'm pretty darn sure that pneumonia has been around for a while and that there isn't much mysterious about it anymore. The concern now, according to NBC, is "what about the other chimps?" Well, the other chimps have colds. That's what happens when you live with other creatures. Contagious diseases, from a cold to the flu to measles to tuberculosis, are going to be . . . contagious. It's a crazy world out there, isn't it? Who knew that bodily secretions could actually be passed onto someone else? Oh. That's right. Everyone knew that since, oh, about ages ago.
Now, I love animals. Not so much that I have a pet, but in theory--even if not in my house--I love them. And therefore, the idea of a chimpanzee dying is, um, unfortunate? I didn't know him personally, so I can't quite use the word "sad." If PETA wants to come pounding on my door because of that admission then here I am. And if they want to just spray paint my door instead of pounding on it for this next admission, then I'll leave a can outside just for them. But here it is: Chimps are not lead news stories unless they have broken loose from their homes, gone on a rampage, and hurt a human. Humans trump chimps. I'm not talking about approving scientific experiments on them. I'm talking about moving a lead story about them to follow a human story.
For instance, this human story, which was the second one on the news last night: A nine-year-old boy was shot while riding his bike, the likely victim of gang violence. NINE! Coincidentally, the chimp was nine as well. And he, the chimp, died rather than being "simply" shot, but this is a child we're talking about. A human child. He's in stable condition and was able to run to his mother and SIX-YEAR-OLD brother afterward. So he'll be okay. But isn't this story more important? You're worried about the chimp's troop having colds, yet what about this 9-year-old's little brother being just a few feet behind him when he was shot? Handguns aren't exactly accurate weapons. It could have just as easily been the 6-year-old. Would that have qualified as a news lead? Do you think we've grown so calloused to only care about a child if he's been killed? And if he had been killed, would you really have moved him to open the news? Or did the interviews you got of concerned zoo-goers concerned about Kipper just seem too important to pass up?
While watching the news, I was reading a book that had this line in it: "If everyone around you is mad, then that becomes the new sanity and who were we to complain?"
A friend of mine mentioned on my FB page that in her hometown, which is where I grew up as well, the city gives $110,000 to the Humane Society, $110,00 to the City Cemetery, and $15,000 to the Agency on Aging. "So obviously if you are an animal, or dead, you are more valuable to the city than if you are old," she said.
Everyone around us is mad. And so am I. We all should be.