After having been out of the States for awhile, I have returned to be taken aback by our new obsession with round-the-clock news that has been mixed with a reality-TV-voyeurism and a Facebook narcissism that results in what can only be described as journarcivoyerism [pronounced: jour-nar-si-voy-yer-ism].
And by that I mean this....the news is no longer something we watch to become informed. We watch it to delve into other people's lives. We watch it out of morbid curiousity. We watch it because we need someone to give us our opinions so that we sound smarter than we actually are.
The most recent example of this was, obviously, the Pope. The Pope. 24/7. Really. Is that news? Now, don't get me wrong. I like the Pope. I'm glad that his comings and goings made the news and that we were interested in what he had to say, and when, and where, and to whom. But, do I need to know his thoughts, the cardinals' thoughts, the commentators' thoughts, the thoughts of those in the audience on whether he had a happy childhood? No! Seriously, people. We have a problem!
Now, lest I be accused of being anti-Papal (please remember who was recently on Vatican radio) I have to say that I would rather watch the Pope than Brittany Spears, Paris Hilton, Martha Stewart, or OJ Simpson but that is not the point. The point is this: there are other FAR more newsworthy things going on in the world you never heard about because the Pope gave a mass in Yankee Stadium, or Brittany drove drunk down Hollywood Blvd, or whatever. Like what, you ask?
Like Zimbabwe on the cusp of civil war; like the thousands killed in one week alone in the forgotten conflicts of Congo, Uganda, Somalia, Cote d'Ivoire, Columbia, Sri Lanka, and Chechnya; like China's brutal 're-education' proposition for school children in Tibet; like cholera in Soweto.
I'm not saying let's not watch the Pope. I am saying please, SOMEONE, put news back in it's rightful place as 'information' and then let me get on with the rest of my day! Now that's something I'd pay for. A news channel that reported stories, different stories, relevant stories 24 hours a day without repeating a single one. And, never mentioning anyone who lives in Los Angeles. Nor the San Fernando valley. Nor, parts of New York. Is that too much to ask?
P.S. The first person who writes in to say that 'that's what BBC does' will never hear from me EVER again.