Friday Flashback - Just Because People Watch It Doesn't Make it Important...or Good...or True!

Ok, so this week I have decided to delve in to the archives and present you with an older post. I'll be making this a regular thing, on the first Friday of the month. There are a lot of new readers to this fair blog land of mine (*waves* hello and welcome, thank you so, so much for taking the time to visit my little corner of the interwebs, I really do appreciate it!) and I thought it may be nice to re-visit an old post and add any insights or epiphanies I may have had in the intervening time. I am also new to a lot of your blogs and so I thought it might be nice if you shared with me one of your older posts too. Doesn't have to be your best one, just one that you might have been particularly proud of, or think gives a bit of insight in to who you are as a person or blogger, or even just one that you would like a little more comment love on. Feel free to add that post to the linky at the end of this one, or hit me up with the link in the comments, and I promise I will stop by, have a read, and leave some comment love.

This post was originally published Wednesday February 9th 2011, updates are in bold red font.

This post may offend some people. You may think I feel I'm superior because of the views on 'news' tv that I am about to express. Rest assured, I know I am just as lame and stupid as anyone else. I just don't care for this crap. But I am not against a little crap-watching, God knows I watch my fair share of it. Just not of this kind. And it's my opinion that it's crap. I respect that you may have another opinion, and I don't think you're an idiot for liking the programs I'm about to mention. I will, however, think you're an idiot if you truly liked Passions for it's gripping storylines and powerful acting.

There was an opinion piece written by David Koch of Sunrise on The Punch today. If you can't be bothered reading it (however please do, so I don't do what I'm about to get annoyed about) he is basically talking about the 'important role' that commercial breakfast television has and responding to critics of his show, and others like its, coverage of the recent natural disasters to have befallen the country.

When it comes to breakfast television and a current affairs and 'news' in general, I always take a cynical approach. I never fully believe everything I read or am told by the media. And I really, really don't like breakfast tv, ala Sunrise or Today, or A Current Fair/Today Tonight. And lately, the 6pm news on both those channels has been shitting me. In fact, it's been shitting me for a while. Yep, still shitting me today, if possible it's even worse!

The Dynamic Duos with impossibly white teeth
TBH, I like Wilkinson, I wish she wasn't on such a crappy show
But I gotta support the C'town girl, even if I don't watch it!

What I don't like about these shows is the absolute crap they have most of the time. Granted I don't watch them very often at all, but nearly all of the times I have, it's frustrated me no end.

The crap on these shows is unbelievable. Most of it is common sense stuff, take for instance, a story on ACA tonight, about those offers where you sign up to a contract, mobile phone for instance, and get something for free, say an xBox. They warned me that in the long run, these types of deals may not really be deals at all. Companies are in the business of making money and they aren't going to offer me something that costs them money.

Well no shit sherlock! Doesn't everyone know that? I spose in a way what scares me is that some people don't know this! I feel sorry for them. If it sounds too good to be true, well people, I'm here to tell you, it usually is!

The sensationalism and OTT-ness of these programs also shits me. Take any crisis coverage from 7 or 9 in the last 2 years and try not to drown in the fake concern, fake smiles, fake tears and just general barely-hidden-glee at the ratings this human suffering might bring, on the reporters faces.

It's just so ridiculously OVER the TOP! I can't say that more. It's ridiculously OVER the TOP. It's 1000% embarrassing! I used to make fun of American news programs for their ridiculous sensationalism of current events, but now it's our own networks too! Have you noticed how now, whenever anything even remotely interesting happens they have people 'on the spot' ready to give their report about the dog who pooed on the footpath and the woman who stepped in it and Oh My God the humanity, this is breaking news people and we have reporters at the scene RIGHT NOW!

What really gets to me though, is that the vulnerable people, the ones who can't think for themselves or aren't that interested in getting their news from a variety of sources, so they can get all the angles and gain a better understanding...even just those who, for whatever reason, don't have time to find their news, like me, now that I have given birth to a time-sucking parasite child...they hear these soundbites and opinions from people, presented as fact, and they just accept as correct what they've been told. Never mind the fact that what they have heard has been taken totally out of context and doesn't mean what they think it does, because the program didn't bother to go any further in their reporting than the headline. It's the misinformation that gets spread around that really shits me. Well, it shits me just as much as the OTT-ness.

This is particularly true of the print media online (I'm looking at you, and and now even I can't tell you how over misleading headlines I am. The ones that say one thing, but then when you actually read the story you discover that either a) the headline really has nothing to do with the content of the story or the point it's trying to make, and b) those that are deliberately sensational, just to get you to click through to it.

I understand that, like any business, they have to make money and achieve a certain click-through rate to please their advertisers, but come the fuck on! Some of them are just flat out lies. They may as well just pop a bunch of popular keywords in as the headline, they'd probably get just as many clicks from Goggle search results anyway. Maybe headlines should just be words like BOOBS, PENIS, PUBES or VAGINA (see what I did there? Let's watch as my hit-rate goes through the roof by all the pubescent teens searching for those words!)

What they don't get, is that now I'm so wary, that unless I am absolutely intrigued by the headline, I don't click through. And more and more I just don't click through, because the really interesting headlines are often the worst ones! I suspect I'm not the only one.

In the same way I have an even bigger problem with talkback radio. People listen to these shows, they hear Joe Blow call up and tell them how their mate told them that NSW Labor is actually run by a bunch of Big-Pharma Ninjas, and that is why our water is being sold to the Russians so they can use it to create super weapons disguised as vibrators which are then shipped back to Australia and sold on the blackmarket in a conspiracy to bring down the federal government one sexual encounter at a time. And Joe Blogss sitting at home, he hears this, thinks cor blimey, that guys on to something, and if Alan Jones is talking to him then there must be some truth to that.

Those talkback guys love to pick out one line from an entire news story and just run with it, facts be damned. And it's the way people hear this crap and take it as fact that really worries me.

If you think Australia is a modern, liberal minded country all you have to do is listen to the people that call in to talk back radio, or read through your facebook feed to realise there are some really stupid, ignorant people living in this country.

These are the same people that comment on The Punch (and other opinion pieces and websites) by picking out one sentence in an opinion piece and attacking the author over it, not bothering to make sure they have really understood the context of the sentence and the overall point the commentator is trying make.

That is why I think that, just because your show is popular Kochie, and there is a tiny percentage of the country that tunes in to your show (and really, 800,000 viewers in a country of 20 million people isn't that much), it doesn't mean that it is good or important.

But maybe there's my answer. Maybe it doesn't matter because it really is only a small percentage of people who are actually watching this tripe.

Regardless, I still think all those programs, and the 6pm news on channels 9 and 7 is a joke. And it's doing nothing to improve the awareness of those that watch them for their 'news-worthy-ness'. But maybe that's the appeal. We all like to watch crap every now and then, I myself have a weakness for Gossip Girl.

However, Gossip Girl doesn't pretend to be something it's not. They're never gonna be a serious drama, and they don't pretend to be.

Just once, I'd love to see some crisis-devastated person turn around and answer the stupidest question ever posed by a news reporter, "How do you feel?", with the reply "Let me see, I'm over the fucking moon. How do you think I bloody feel!". Wouldn't that be brilliant!

What do you think? Am I being too harsh?

And just to bring the laughs, take 30 secs to watch this clip I found on YouTube.

I'm also linking this up with the fabulous Bree for Flash Blog Friday and Grace for Flog Yo Blog Friday. Happy Friday everyone!


Katie said…
I have a problem with the sensationalism of non-newsworthy "news" stories too.
I live in the U.S. and every time a celebrity coughs, I have to hear about it.
Our morning show "newscasters" are really just glorified talk show hosts.
Thus, we stopped watching television. (plus, there is WAAAY too much crap on the airwaves)
Now, we read news papers or go online and pick through the fluff to get to the stuff that actually matters.
It seems to work.
Great post.
Btw, I LOVED that video at the end. Hilarious!
Mia said…
Tne people who would be offended by this are the people who can't bother to read a blog since there are too many words in a row.

But the good news is that few people in the English speaking world think Australia is a modern, liberal minded country.
Anonymous said…
hahahaha that you tube clip is hilarious! Did you watch media watch on monday night?? They did a fantastic round up of mainly the commercial stations. Firstly, the reporters who disregarded strong recommendations to be indoors just to get a good "shot". There was even one guy who was reporting while sheets of metal swept by not too far from him - lunacy.

I remember my home page used to be so when I turned on my computer I could get a quite snapshot of what is going on in the world. I'm ashamed to admit it took me quite a long time to see how completely Over the top this website is, and the level of sensationalism and crap spinning that blurs what is really going on.

I long for the day when there is a place people can go to find, basic, plainspoken informative news which is based on facts. Any opinion pieces need to be clearly defined so people can separate the fact from opinion/fiction.

I think its critical that we teach media strategies in school, from airbrushing and photoshoping, to how companies skew information for their demographics. It really is a problem, and until our country gets smart enough (or cares enough, sadly) and demands reform, its just going to get worse.

Sorry for standing on your high horse, but its a huge bugbear for me too! :)
Amy xxoo said…
I put Sunrise on in the morning just for a bit of background noise as i'm getting ready for work. I might look up when they run a fluffy feel good piece, or entertainment gossip, but i pay no attention to their " serious " news stories. And i cant really stand Kochie at all - he comes across as such an eggheaded know-it-all. Sometimes i just want to write into their soapbox and tell him to shut up!
Katiegirl said…
Finally! Another person who questions what they hear in the media.

I've been getting thoroughly p*ssed off at the media, carrying on with rubbish (like Charlie Sheen's partying habits), and neglecting to mention stuff that we really need to be told about.

I noticed during the live flood coverage of QLD floods, during a live cross a reporter started to say something like "I've just been told that six refugees..." and before she could get another word out, the newscaster in the control room cut her off and said they didn't have any more time. I can't help but wonder if it was time constraints, or did they not want us to hear about the "six refugees"...?
Kylie Purtell said…
@Katie - I must admit, I was quite surprised by the amount of celebrity news on the evening news when I was over there in June. It was around the time Gary Coleman died and fro the entire 5 weeks we were there, that was the top news story on nearly every second channel. Closely followed by the Oil Spill. It was such a disconnect hearing about all of this rumour and speculation about a former child-star, either before or directly after hearing of the horrors that the oil spill had caused. I certainly had a good giggle when I found that clip too!

@Mia - I love your work! You always make me laugh!

@ActingLikeAMama - I especially love it at the end when Kochie says "now the worst hit parts will be between Mel and myself". Gold! Kicking myself I missed Media Watch now, gonna have to pop over to iView and check it out. Feel free to join me on my high horse, I wish more people would when it comes to this kind of crap.

@Amy - That's about the only time I have seen it, when my husband would leave it on when he'd get home from night shift to see what the weather would be like for sleeping that day! And I quite liked seeing that clock on the screen, always gets my arse moving! I hated it though when I would walk in and that idiot on Today, the celeb 'news' reporter is on...I can't stand his voice at all!

@Katiegirl - I know, I can't believe the crap that is called 'news' these days. The coverage of the chaos in Egypt over the last week from the commercial networks was waaaaaay below par, and still is. Considering how small the world is now, I think it's even more important than ever that we are getting a good mix of local and international news, especially about things like what is happening in Egypt.

Things happening in other parts of the world do effect us and because of the lack of awareness a lot of people in this country are so ignorant about people and situations in other countries, and that's why there are so many people who are racist, whether they mean to be or not. I know many people who would never consider themselves to be ignorant or racist but some of the things that come out of their mouths is beyond me. And the attitudes in this country to genuine refugees, including boat people, is just absolutely appalling and shameful. I don't advocate opening up our borders to anyone and everyone, but I do advocate for the refugees rights and the fact that Australians need to be much more informed about the true circumstances and issues these people are fleeing.

Now, after that vigorous ride on my high-horse, I'm going to eat some dinner!
Christie said…
I completely LOVE this post. Good on you for standing up and saying it. ACA and TT and the morning shows are banned in my home. I used to be slightly amused by them, but now I can't see the fun in them, I just get scared. Scared that this drivel is what appeals to the masses.
And the hysteria! I have four kids, I don't need any more hysteria in my day. Just give me the facts, the plain truth and try not to hyperventilate while you're saying it please! Sigh.
Anonymous said…
You are definitely not being too harsh. Last month I was doing my usual evening flick through the channels trying desperately to find something to nourish my brain, I was faced with Farmer Wants a Root, Biggest Losers, Beauty vs Geek, etc, etc, utter shite in other words. I unplugged the telly, took it outside and abandoned it out front for some poor unsuspecting person to take home and cherish. Having grown up with the reassuring professionalism of the BBC I find the TV here turgid (love the bbq's and kangaroos though) and feel a lot better off without one. It felt like a radical step, now it feels like an inspired decision.
I don't watch much tv these days... other than reality tv that is universally accepted as trash. But I might have to start watching some of the news coverage to see some coverage about the lady that stood in the dog poo...riveting stuff :)
School of Mum said…
hate hate hate Current Affairs and the news in general. In fact, I can't watch them because all I do is rant and rave about what crap it all is. I used to think the news had some cred years and years ago. Maybe it didn't and I didn't notice but now all I see is 'alleged' this 'facebook' that. I mean, honestly, your sources come from Facebook and Twitter, REALLY? Ffs! Ok, must stop there. What I'm trying to say is, I relate, I understand and I agree.
I make an extra effort, NOT to watch breafast shows, the news, or crap like Today Tonight...
I'm happy to read The Age, and even then I'm wary of what they say

There will be fairytales written one day..."Once upon a time, there was journalist.."

Grace said…
We rarely have the TV on (besides ABC4Kids).
I used to have Sunrise on in the background now I can't stand to watch it. Kochie and Mel are idiots. She's a dizz and he's just. Ugh. Where do I begin?
princessmama said…
I love, love, love this post. I sometimes feel like an outcast because I don't watch The Kardashians or Entertainment Tonight. I just don't care enough to watch it.

New follower ')
Kylie Purtell said…
Holy cow! I don't know if I am quite ready to give away the TV yet. The only reason we have Foxtel is so we can tape the shows we really love that are actually worth watching. I hardly ever watch live tv anymore, it's all recorded. Either that or we watch DVD's!
Kylie Purtell said…
It certainly is riveting stuff. Make sure you keep an eye out for the man who put the toilet seat down. But that might actually be a myth come to think of it...
Kylie Purtell said…
You sound just like me. SO many times Dave has walked in and switched off the TV because I've been sitting there feeding Mia and one of these crap shows has come on and I can't reach the remote and I start ranting and raving about how shit it all is. I must remember to put the remote beside me when feeding!
Kylie Purtell said…
Fairytales indeed. In fact I'm pretty sure that's what half the journo's are actually writing these days!
Kylie Purtell said…
ABC4Kids is getting more and more airtime in this house as Mia becomes more and more aware of what the tv is. I would much rather watch that than any of the other crap every day of the week! Except for Rasta Mouse, I really don't like Rasta Mouse. There is something wrong with that mouse and I suspect it has something to do with what his countrymen are known for! Puff puff!
Kylie Purtell said…
I can't say I'm a fan of the Kardashians either, but because my sister is, and she babysits Mia on a Friday while I'm at work she tapes it to watch when she is here because Mum doesn't have Foxtel so I have been exposed to it and I must say I'm a little bit afraid. Ok, a lot afraid!
Have a media sabbatical and only read high brow things for awhile. It will restore your faith in humanity and in our higher faculties :-)

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