CHARLOTTE, N.C., August 12, 2014 — The world is in flames.
While it burns, there are desperate questions which sit on a back burner; they demand immediate attention.
We receive regular updates about the state of the nation’s economy through jobs figures, gross domestic product, and other economic indicators. These statistics are usually presented monthly and provide fodder for the media to pontificate about the relative strength or weakness of the party in power and the president.
Regardless of when the numbers are released or whether they are up or down, economists are always “surprised” by the results. But aren’t these the very same television experts who tell us what to think and how to invest? Why then are they always caught off guard?
Then there are presidential poll numbers. With every president, those numbers seem always to hit “a new low.” President Barack Obama has been under the 40 percent approval level a couple of times during his presidency, and now his numbers seem regularly to hit a new low.
These are important matters to the press, which is obsessed with numerical pictures of the world.
By the way, what does “on the ground” mean exactly? When a reporter says, “The president is ‘on the ground’ in Cairo” that implies that he could also be up in the air or scuba diving. It used to be that “The president is in Cairo” was ample enough information, but now journalists believe it is more important if he is “on the ground.”
In fact, “on the ground” has become so commonplace that you hear the phrase multiple times each day in news broadcast, despite the fact that it is redundant.
Decades ago, news only happened once a week in the newsreels at the movies. Then along came Walter Cronkite, who covered the entire day in 15 minutes, including commercials.
Now there is “breaking news” between almost every commercial break.
“Breaking news!” The gunman used a loaded weapon during the shooting. (Commercial)
“Breaking news!” The shooter may have had two guns. (Commercial)
“Breaking news!” The perpetrator only had one weapon after all. But we have cameras en route and our reporter will be “on the ground” momentarily.
What really does make “good television”? We hear the expression all the time. Once there were only three networks and you actually had to walk across the room to change the channels. Now there are hundreds of channels and nothing to watch, unless you enjoy an all out screaming match between a Republican and a Democrat with a news anchor sitting in between.
It doesn’t matter that they are both repeating talking points that were announced just five minutes before by the president and refuted two minutes after that by the opposing party; that is what they call “good television.”
Turning from politics, is it just me or does anyone else notice than when they fix a drink on television or in the movies they always swig the booze straight from the glass or the bottle? Just pour the liquor, guzzle it down in one huge gulp and then have another.
By the same token, who in this world eats popcorn one kernel at a time? They do on television and in the movies. I don’t know about you but most of us eat that crunchy stuff by the handful with half of it ending up on the rug or the theater floor. It would take three weeks to finish an average sized bowl of popcorn the way they eat it on film.
One final question. Has anyone ever called a doctor, pharmacist or credit card company etc. and connected with an audio recording where the “options have not recently been changed?” How often do these companies actually change their options?
Granted there are more than enough choices. Press 1 for this, or 2 for that, or 3 for something else.
As a corollary to that question, does anyone ever get the “option” that specifically relates to the actual problem they are calling about?
These are serious matters. Someone needs to answer them.
Please make certain however, that whoever does the research needs to do it “on the ground.”
Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe. Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
Read more of What in the World and Bob Taylor at Communities Digital News, and follow Bob on Twitter @MrPeabod.