Heads Up on Headline News
Are We there Yet?By Charla Belinski Glenwood Springs, CO ColoradoWith the recent assassination of Benazir Bhutto, I thought it might be a good idea to have my three kids more engaged in understanding world news. I thought it would be healthy to know how politics and legislation in other countries is shaping our lives on a global scale, and to have them appreciate the actions and ramifications of decisions made across the world. In short, I decided it was time for us to watch the nightly news.
Boy, was I wrong.Somewhere between the Iowa caucus and the war in Iraq is a vast wasteland of television “news.” And I do mean vast. My son, an unlikely opponent of television given the number of hours he spends watching “MythBusters” and “Dirty Jobs,” put it best: “News is just garbage.” Watching the news – local, regional or national – leaves me with the feeling they’re all just trying to fill the hour with something that can pass as relevant material. But is that kind of fabricated “news” really relevant to us at all? And forget about those stations with 24-hour news coverage; talk about a depressing marathon of murder and mayhem. Do I really need to know about the father who set his house on fire killing his pregnant daughter and grandchildren? Or about the man who kidnapped his neighbor over the holidays, or the former small-town beauty queen who kidnapped and tortured her ex-boyfriend? Or the … sorry; I guess you don’t need to know those stories either.
No wonder we think the world is a scary place; we’re inundated with the most frightening events people can perpetrate on one another and then view them as another reason to be fearful, rather than the aberration they are in a nation with 300 million people. It’s no wonder my kids prefer repeats of “Hannah Montana.”Now, I admit that, for a 13-year-old, news programming could never hold a candle to Miley Cyrus. But is it wrong to hope that the news can somehow encourage and inspire people to action? That a snippet of news might create in a young person the desire to actually make a difference in his or her community, or – dare we hope? – the world? It’s a tough sell, given that most Americans get their news from Entertainment Tonight.Then again, maybe the teen pregnancy of “Zoey 101” star Jamie Lynn Spears is more relevant to kids than genocide in Darfur. Still, I can’t escape the idea that that kind of news is simply gossip and hearsay. It creates judgment and negativity, criticism and ill-will. Celebrity news is about as relevant to me as rioting in Nairobi; and neither one makes me feel hope for the world.
It’s a good thing my kids can read, because I’ve all but given up on stirring television news that will both educate and inspire. Flipping on the nightly news does not create a desire to change the world, merely a desire to change the channel. Charla Belinski writes about parenting and family life and teaches parenting classes through YouthZone. Her column appears every other week in the Post Independent.
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