When I was a kid, it was a popular practice to assign students (I typed “stupid” first. Wtf?) current events reports. The teachers would send us home and make us read or watch the news, and then write a report on what we learned.
I wasn’t really allowed to watch much news. My parents tried to censor as much of the violence and hatred in the world as possible from my sister and I. So often, my father would “help” me pick a news story from the newspaper, if they allowed me to participate at all. Back then, it wasn’t unusual for parents to keep their children from witnessing violence both in the media and on television or the big screen, so no one questioned it.
But there was one thing I do remember about the news. It was the one place you could be sure that, if you went there, you’d learn something. I’m sure there was opinion injected into the media back then, too. It’s almost impossible, even for someone who tries to remain diplomatic, to not let your opinion bleed into your writing. So, being an opinionated writer, and knowing what I know as such, I can look beyond that.
What I can’t look beyond is the constant grammatical errors, misspellings and actual attempts from the newscasters to draw in the younger generation by using popular slang and, in some cases, Ebonics.
The news shouldn’t be about ratings, first of all. Let’s start there.
While I understand that there is huge competition between all the stations, papers, and magazines, “talking down to their level” isn’t going to win you any popularity contests. Frankly, it’s insulting. Because in most cases, it’s obvious you think the people who use these terms aren’t as intelligent as you. And I’m here to tell you that’s just not true.
I’ve had more intelligent conversations with people who speak mostly Ebonics, in some cases, than with people who are well educated and in positions of power. I’ve heard more compassion and understanding of the way the world works come from the mouths of men who dropped out of school in second grade, for one reason or another, and have had to make a life for themselves on the street.
But let’s ignore all that. Let’s pretend you don’t think they’re stupid. Let’s pretend you really are just trying to relate to a group of people you don’t understand. We’ll give you the benefit of doubt.
But Jiminey Cricket, get a better editor!
There’s nothing that infuriates me more than to go look at one of my local news stations – Or sometimes, even CNN! – and find something like, “They went to there local congressman…” or “You two can have whitened teeth in a matter of five minutes!” or “Your going to love this guy!” Repeated words and misspelled city names and sentences so mixed up you can’t make hide nor hair of what they’re trying to say. From the news!
And that’s another thing… What’s up with all these major news stations having advertisements for scams on their front pages? Why are you, my news station, trying to sell me shit that you, yourself, probably wouldn’t even try? Selling it to me as if you know for a fact it works! Stop it!
I know you know that Americans look to you to tell them how to act. We shouldn’t, and we’re idiots for doing it. Especially now, with how much opinion is allowed to bleed into newscasting. But we do. And while I realize corruption is prevalent all over the U.S., I’d hoped that at least the places we’re supposed to go to learn about this corruption would be what they’re supposed to be. An honest portrayal of the bullshit going on in our government, in our streets, and in our lives.
You wanna know how to be more popular?
Stop running more stories about celebrities than real world conflict. Tell us the truth. Don’t sugar coat it, or pander to our delicate sensibilities. Don’t censor it. And don’t let the government shut you down.
If we all stand up, they can’t beat us down. Stop helping them hold us down. Help us stand up! Because you know what? Once they’ve beaten us into submission, you’re next. And then, you’ll be nothing but actors on a screen. You’re not much more than that, now.
The news is supposed to have more integrity than that. Live up to your potential.