All day the major news networks and even the Weather Channel have been tracking the story of the child who supposedly floated away in a baloon. I think we will quickly learn that he was never in it. I do hope the child is well.
However, it made me think of a comment by Walter Cronkite that describes so well the national media's addiction to celebrity, sensationalism, and useless news. I wonder what it will take for one of the anchors or editors to finally say enough is enough.
Here's Cronkite's comment from CNN, Larry King show on 3/9/2001. First Larry King asks, "Are you disturbed by the seeming tabloidization of the news?"
Cronkite responds [emphasis is mine]:
"Absolutely. Very much so, very much so. The, we've always had sensationalism in the press. A lot of people think this is something new. It's not new. Look, you know, you've looked at the files, 1850, 1830, from the time of the revolution. They were terrible. The newspapers are far more, far more responsible today than they were in those days, right up, right up practically through World War I --far more responsible.
Broadcasting is reasonably responsible. But the trouble with broadcasting, as I see it, is we get hold of these stories that are really not important to the future of the democracy: Princess Di, O.J. Simpson for heaven's sake, John John's accident at Martha Vineyard. And we cling to these stories so long. We wear them out. We wear them to death, and they're not that important.
There's so little time on the air to report the important news that makes a difference whether we're going to live or die in this democracy of ours. Whether we're going to succeed or fail in our education, and our health care, all of these things. That's what should be taking our time and we spent all that time going over the same facts over and over again.
And we rush to these stories. With John Kennedy's accident, my gosh, within a half-hour one of the networks I won't name here on CNN, immediately found a pilot who piloted a plane similar to the one that Kennedy was in, and we saw that guy on the air for 24 hours telling us how that accident could have happened. He knew, had no more idea of how the accident happened than I did."