Thursday, October 15, 2009

The World Stops When Bizarre Things Happen

How else do you explain the nonstop coverage of today's story about a runaway balloon allegedly with a six-year old boy along for the ride? Once the balloon landed, and no boy was found, the very first thing I thought was that the boy let the balloon go and realizing how stupid it was, decided to hide for fear of getting in major trouble. If I were six years old and did something as asinine, I'd hide too!

The story has a "happy" ending. Despite horrid thoughts and speculation by bearded CNN pundits of a box or basket that was attached to the balloon in which the little fly boy hopped in and eventually plummeted to his death while 10,000 feet high, he was eventually found hiding in his attic, scared shitless of the Major League trouble he would be in.

And yet, hours after the homemade weather balloon landed two counties away sans kid, we were forced to watch speculators and and pseudo-pundits trying to figure out how high the balloon got, if it could handle the weight of a child and the basket he was supposedly in, all while watching the same 30 seconds of footage of the flying balloon, followed by 30 seconds of the balloon landing, followed by 30 seconds of the flying balloon that we'd just seen.

The world stopped while this balloon was in the air. Nothing else was happening. At least not according to the 24/7 news media outlets. And even after the boy was found, they kept talking about it! Nothing happened on the health care front. Everyone forgot to criticize President Obama's trip to New Orleans. Yet we were mesmerized by the balloon story. That silver, mylar, flying saucer shaped balloon put most of us in a trance even when there was NO NEW NEWS to report for hours.

This is the problem with 24 hour news outlets. When does breaking news stop becoming breaking news? Even when the story is long over, it's still "Breaking News" and real news gets ignored. Sensationalism is only sensational when something sensational happens, whether it be the balloon boy, or Natalee Halloway or Anna Nicole Smith or Michael Jackson. I wish someone would let cable news producers in on that little tidbit of information.


jane said...

Ohmygod there was a BALLOON??!? WHAT HAPPENED TO THE BALLOON???!!???

Also, sphoos.

NowhereMan said...

The media seems to thrive on giving the daily show material.Masochistic mofos.So fuckin predictable.

Fraulein said...

I was about to write about this nonsense, and you beat me to it! As you observe, this is yet another illustrative example of how incredibly lame the TV media has become. This was a classic example of something that is inherently "not news," being blown up into a story for no good reason.

And, not only that, but it illustrates the utter cluelessness of the people doing the reporting. One of the main lessons I learned in journalism school is that the reporter simply cannot be an expert on everything. But a skill that is absolutely crucial for reporters is knowing when to ask an expert for more information. As we watched this bullshit unfold on TV last night, Mr. Fraulein, with his MIT education and extensive knowledge of physics, shouted out, "Look at that thing! I find it very hard to believe it could support the weight of a 6-year-old kid!" The TV reporters don't have to be physics experts, but they DO have to have the basic skills to realize when it's time to call some MIT geek and ASK THIS VERY BASIC QUESTION, lest they look like morons by not asking.

The problem is, there is no downside for them to looking like morons. They get to remain on TV, foisting their moronitude on the public, regardless.

Fraulein said...

Oh, and if you could cross-post this one too, that would be great -- thanks!