I watched the news yesterday. You should know that I have not watched the news in several years for several reasons.
If you know me at all, you are probably scratching your head trying to figure out what happened. I mean, I used to be a news junkie. I majored in journalism. I woke with the early morning news, and fell asleep to the late news.
But somewhere in the last few years, the news has lost its luster, and last night confirmed that for me.
I turned to the news to specifically find out what happened at Ohio State. I knew something bad happened, because the public safety director of the school was on TV when I walked past the elevator bank at my job. I had no idea what it was.
So I found myself with a bit of free time after 9pm and turned to what used to be my favorite news channel. I watched that channel for 20 full minutes and there was absolutely no mention of Ohio State. At 9:30, a new show started. I continued to watch for 10 minutes. Still nothing.
I turned to another 24-hour news station. I was frustrated to find that this station, too, was not talking about what I felt should have been the top news story in the nation.
Both stations had chosen to lead instead with speculation about who would be in Donald Trump’s cabinet. Did you catch that? Two very popular “news” channels, and neither of them was reporting any news. On both channels, very smart people were opining and conjecturing, but nobody was giving any facts.
Do you remember the Jason Blair affair? I do. I remember thinking that nobody would ever hire me after that. As a young, black journalist I felt my career was over before it started.
The news yesterday gave me a similar feeling in the pit of my stomach.
I no longer think I’m unemployable. Instead I feel like people think they ought to get paid to tell others their opinions. Opinions are like ——–. Everybody has one. None of them are worth much. That’s problematic for journalists like me who were trained to do actual reporting. It’s also problematic for the American political system which is dependent upon an “informed electorate.”
I feel like we’ve replaced “informed” with entertained. And that makes me sad.
Gwen Ifill, we miss you already.