Column: Differentiate news from entertainment
By MIKe Eddleman
Editor and Publisher
I don’t care what inspired Miley Cyrus’ hair. I don’t care to see Kim Kardashian’s latest “selfie” or how treacherous Kanye West believes his stage show can be. I don’t care who is pregnant on “Teen Mom,” “Teen Mom 2” or “16 and Pregnant.”
When Justin Bieber wipes out on a skateboard, it is not headline news. Is it important to us to know who the best celebrity dog parents were in 2013?
Before the age of mass media we had a pretty clear definition of news. Today everything is treated like news and we blur the lines of what holds significance in our world. We believe in the United States that we are well-informed, educated consumers of news, but I am not always so sure. It all depends on how we define “news” today.
Is there anything truly important about what cast members of “Duck Dynasty” have to say? Should we care if Miley Cyrus is twerking? These things are lumped into that all-to-generic category of “news” today and the things that could make a real difference in our lives every day are banished to the “boring” corner of our minds in favor of celebrity gossip and social media announcements.
Entertainment is always a click away, but consider the real news of the past year that now seems so distant in our memories. Have these things changed our lives for the better or prompted change? Or have we pushed them aside in favor of the escape found in a new kind of news?
In 2013 two brothers set off bombs at the Boston Marathon killing three and wounding hundreds. Evidence surfaced that chemical weapons were used in the Syrian civil war and after much debate, the United States chose to take no direct action in the conflict. George Zimmerman was acquitted in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. Gun violence continued with 120 people killed in FBI-classified mass shootings while it is estimated more than 11,000 died in the United States in all gun violence.
We met a new Pope and said goodbye to an iconic leader in Nelson Mandela. Edward Snowden shocked the world by leaking massive amounts of data from the National Security Agency then fleeing the country. Unrest continued throughout the world as tensions flared between China and its Asian neighbors, government upheaval reignited in Egypt as it stumbles through democratic change and North Korea continued its brinkmanship ways.
Our government shut down for more than two weeks and political leaders continued to prove ineffective in dealing with any crisis as waste continued, debt increased and another year passed with no reasonable plan to change our course.
Social issues domestically such as marijuana legalization, gay rights and abortion were the subject of legislative and legal battles across the country with no clear consensus.
The Affordable Healthcare Act was launched, suffering technical setbacks and causing confusion for consumers, yet it was eclipsed in Internet searches by Miley Cyrus and the new royal baby.
We devour gossip and entertainment, while news that impacts our lives every day bores us and sends us searching for a mindless refuge in the stories of the celebrities who claim a frightening amount of our attention.
Government and world news is not entertaining, but it was not entertaining to previous generations who felt it was important enough to keep up with and understand. We have an obligation to be informed because our system of government does not work well in an uninformed society.
Read all you want about what the Kardashians had for lunch, which of the “Real Housewives” have stuck their foot in their mouth or how much Michael Jordan has had to slash the price of his $20 million mansion, but redirect some of that thirst for knowledge to real news as well.
Learning about Kim Jong Un can hardly offer the entertainment value of Justin Bieber, but news should be more than a diversion.