Friday, November 20, 2009

Commentary on News

Here is the announcement of the end of the Oprah show and the show's history. It's big news on the national reporting scene. While the end of Oprah's program is worth noticing, I question the amount of hype it is getting. We are in an age when entertainment is news.

Oprah, the queen of talk, is very influential, possibly the most influential American woman of our times. She has brought attention to many important issues and causes. She has done it on her program, in contrast to lackluster reporting of similar issues on television newscasts. Maybe talk shows are becoming blurred with newscasts and commentaries. I watch news commentaries on the Daily Show, The Colbert Report, Countdown, the Rachel Maddow Show, Bill Moyers Journal, and others. I do not watch or listen to the Fox network or Rush Limbaugh. These programs are expressions of impacts and editorial conclusions about what is happening. In some cases they are satirical and humorous. In some cases they are the only news programs that some people watch or listen to.

CNN seems to continue to report straight news, along with the nightly newscasts and NPR. This week we are hearing some actual news, such as action on health insurance reform, uproar over recommendations on mammograms, and Obama's deliberation about what to do with our unpopular wars. We heard about a boy who made news by refusing to say the pledge of allegiance in school because he said that homosexuals do not enjoy "liberty and justice for all." Then I heard Stephen Colbert reciting his rewritten pledge of texting to the flag, a satirical twist on human interest stories.

Our nation has ongoing editorializing overtly through the importance given to various events, and we have editorializing by omission. When we spent months seeing and hearing about the death of Michael Jackson, the king of pop, and days enjoying the balloon boy, we undoubtedly missed some other newsworthy issues. As a nation, we love entertainment over content. If that is what we are getting, I am glad to have the intelligent satire of the Daily Show and Stephen Colbert.

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