In Mr. Thursday’s on-going efforts to learn everything there is to learn, sometimes we’re forced to evaluate the instruments by which we receive information. We’re especially concerned about Current Events with the feeling that if we can keep up on what’s happening now, what’s happened already isn’t going anywhere. Of course, keeping up on what’s happening now is extraordinarily difficult, as there is quite a bit going on, and we’ve come to the conclusion that most of the standard methods of information gathering (reading the newspaper, watching the local and national news) are inadequate.
As a young man, Mr. Thursday was very fond of Peter Jennings and his work on ABC’s World News Tonight. Out of some kind of (possibly misguided) loyalty, we’ve continued watching these broadcasts with a great deal of regularity, and only just recently discovered that Sri Lanka has been undergoing civil war since the summer. And we found out about this through The Economist, a British newspaper.
On the same day Mr. Thursday managed to learn about this civil war, World News Tonight closed its programs with a short piece on where one would end up if one should dig straight through the center of the earth from the United States. (For the curious, you nearly almost always end up in the Indian Ocean, though a few towns manage to pop up on islands). While an amusing story that Mr. Thursday appreciated after hearing about the record death tolls in Iraq, we wonder if perhaps this is indicative of a larger problem. That is, the decline of the news.
A study published in early October found that network news sources–World News Tonight, CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News–provided about the same amount of content as Comedy Central’s The Daily Show. Given that The Daily Show is, ahem, satire, Mr. Thursday is more than a little dismayed at the conclusions of this study. Unsurprised, but still, dismayed. The conclusion the study draws, one which with we agree, is not that The Daily Show is particularly informative, but rather that the network news is seriously lacking in content.
Our hope for the network news? Increase your content. Speed up your delivery, use fewer words, less video, whatever it takes. Secondly, dramatically increase your international coverage. Since there are about 240 countries in the world, and about 260 new episodes of the news, we think it’d be lovely to take a couple minutes out of every program and document some of the significant events in a country or small group of countries. Obviously you can’t get too in depth with only 2 or 3 minutes, but we’d like to think that if we had seen a two minute blurb on Sri Lanka or India in August, we would’ve had the wits to find out more about the Men With Guns.
For now, though, we’re just resorting to reading our local paper, a few national papers, and an international paper, on top of watching the news, sports, movies, books, new music, and an on-going debate on whether or not to start home-brewing beer.
Wish us luck.