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Friday, August 21, 2009

NEWS OVERLOAD


For many years, we usually got our news from the morning or evening newspapers. This was then supplemented by radio, which we either listened to at home or in our cars to and from work. The radio was eventually replaced by television, with news either early in the morning, or at 6:30 at night. Ted Turner then introduced us to 24/7 news reporting, and the race was on to create whole television networks to report on the slightest development of anything. In the meantime, computers and the Internet were phased in with web browsers and e-mail which, among other things, allowed us to peruse news of interest at our leisure. This also allowed news alerts and feeds to be automatically generated about selectable subjects of interest, and distributed not only through computers, but through cell phones and other hand held devices.

If I ever need to know what's going on though, I just ask my wife. She mans what I call the "Media Center" in our family room, whereby she scours the morning newspaper from cover to cover, and any other periodical that comes our way. Next to her is her morning coffee and cigarette, her cell phone, and the house phone. The television is tuned to a morning news program which, in addition to video, includes several scrollable news bars telling viewers what is going on in Tierra del Fuego. In front of her is her laptop which receives her e-mail and news alerts. She's very informed. If she doesn't know about something, it probably didn't happen. Actually, I think the folks at mission control in Houston would be a bit envious of her setup.

Today we have more sources for news than ever before, thus establishing fierce competition for the attention of the consumer. So much so, it is changing our habits for receiving and digesting the news. It puzzles me though, with so many news outlets at our disposal, how can the American people be so uninformed? Think about it. In this country most of us now have access to publications, television, computers, and cell phones, yet most people haven't got a clue as to what is going on (other than in the world of entertainment).

Maybe the reason is that we actually get less news today and more spin. Instead of "here are the facts" (and allow you to arrive at your own conclusion), we now have "here are the facts and this is what they mean." In other words, hard news is sacrificed for analysis and hyperbole. Let's face it though, news can be pretty dry and boring and, instead of putting their audience to sleep, the media moguls add glitz and controversy to spark interest from their audience (and continue to peddle their wares). The danger here however, is too much spin lends itself to brainwashing. It's like saying, "Look, you're too stupid to figure this out, so this is what it means and here is what you should be thinking." I fear too many people have been conditioned to think this way, leaving the door open to politicians with the most money to sway voters as they see fit.

The answer is not necessarily to develop your own personal "Media Center" like my wife did, but to just pay more attention to what is going on and challenge what is being preached to you by the media. Just remember, honest journalism died with the advent of 24/7 news reporting.

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.

Keep the Faith!

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Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For a listing of Tim's Pet Peeves, click HERE.

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Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.