Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

November 2, 2012

Print is still king

By Rebecca Todd
CNHI

— I poke a lot of fun at the media, but that is just because I find them all repugnant.

I'm speaking, of course, about the television media. The newspaper media, like our fine editor at the Flyer, is top notch and would never consider eliminating a columnist that repeatedly makes fun of the media.

Television media on the other hand loves to sensationalize everything they can. Nothing makes them happier than a national tragedy or horrific crime with which they can beat the public over the head and about the ears for weeks on end. They will run the story from every angle until we are all driven to stand up and scream at our televisions to just shut up about it already.

Rebecca, you may say, people don't do that. But I'm here to tell you that they do. My husband and children have seen it happen.

They also seem to love it when children are involved in a crime or an accident. In fact, if there is no child involved, you can bet they will find one somewhere nearby that will "likely be affected by the incident for the rest of their lives."

"Pat, I'm here on the scene where a cat has just been rescued from a flaming building. There was no one else around at the time, but we did talk to Mrs. Joyce Rasmuten who lives two blocks away and she says her six-year-old daughter was traumatized when she heard that a cat almost died."

(Cut to Mrs. Rasmuten). "Little Esmerelda was all cryin' an stuff. I think she is gonna need some medication."

(Back to reporter). "If you would like to donate to a fund to finance poor, disturbed, little Esmerlda's recovery go to www.bogusfundingprojects.com."

The overuse of certain adjectives and adverbs is also a problem. There is actually a class in journalism schools titled "Modifiers for Television Media: The Art of Sensationalism," wherein future reporters learn the process of using these words to make a news story seem worse than it is.

I'm kidding of course. These people don't need a class for sensationalism. Television journalists are born with a special gene that makes it an innate ability. You know, like the gene they have for perfect hair.

For example, there is never just a crime scene; it is always a "grisly" crime scene. "Pat, I'm here at the grisly crime scene where one is rumored dead. And there are children standing right over there waiting for the school bus!"

There is never a just a storm; there are only "horrendous" or "destructive" storms. The reporters are always right in the middle of the storm for emphasis. "Pat, I ... I'm (static noises) here in the middle of (sounds of the wind) the horrendous storm. A branch on the tree beside me has just fallen I'm sure there was a child's treehouse perched vicariously on a limb of that tree! I can't say for sure, but I'm willing to bet there was a child inside and he was likely decapitated by the falling branch. If so, the scene will be grisly."

The point is if you want the news, you're better off sticking with print. Print is still king. If you watch televised newscasts - local or national - you're going to get sensationalism. And I don't even want to talk about Internet news. That's only for those who want their news to include altered photographs and stories written by 13-year-old boys or 60-year-old grandmothers masquerading as journalists. Alas, that is a story for another day.

To get the story straight, stick with print. Because, let me reiterate here: The newspaper media, like our fine editor at the Flyer, is top notch and would never consider eliminating a columnist that repeatedly makes fun of the media.

- Rebecca Todd is a freelance writer and the author of the book "What's the Point?" available at booklocker.com. Contact her at btodd@tds.net.