By Alan Caruba
We call it “news” because, presumably, the news media is providing us with some “new” information about events in the world. If editors and reporters could not come up with something new to write about, your daily newspaper or television news program or channel would cease to exist.
The problem is that most news is the same news. Only the names change.
There is, of course, the constant issue of bias in the reporting of the news, but quite possibly the most serious problem facing the news media and those of us who consume their offerings is the way our attention span is somewhere between that of fungus and algae.
As case in point is the astounding financial meltdown that eliminated millions, if not trillions, of dollars of value in the stock market, the housing market, imports and exports. We were all “rich”, i.e., had access to credit, and now we are not. Despite what is being hailed as the kick-off to the latest Recession, Americans were devoid of any signs of panic.
The reason, I suggest, was the now depleted American attention span. Credit crisis! Bailout! What’s for dinner?
For a generation whose idea of communication is text messaging “How R U?” the notion that they are avidly following the campaigns or aware of national and world events is laughable.
For an older generation whose water cooler debate focuses on wondering who the hell the Tampa Bay Rays are, an ardent concern with every nuance of the campaign is not to be expected.
An older generation that survived past recessions and wars are about the only people who can be counted upon to actually be conversant with the issues.
So the campaigns are reduced at this point to slogans about Joe the Plumber, shooting moose, and comparable inanities.
To the extent the whole thing has gone on far too long, we have only ourselves and our primary election system to blame.
To the extent that supporters of Barack Obama know virtually nothing about his life, his associates, his political agenda (liberal!), and what he is likely to do if elected, it really doesn’t matter. A short attention span requires only that he look good and speak well.
McCain’s supporters know who he is and presumably what he stands for (Conservative? Moderate? Bi-partisan?) simply because the man has been around so long. No need to pay much attention to John, we’ve heard it all before and now we’re stuck with it.
How many Americans will remember to actually vote is entirely predictable. At least fifty percent of registered voters never bother to vote. How close will this election be? At this time in the last national election, John Kerry was way ahead.