Choosing to tell a story.

Monday, September 4th, 2006

Monday morning, Labor Day, and our top story this morning—breaking news, in the modern misdefinition of the term, which doesn’t apparently mean “important” but it means “something we weren’t able to run into the ground yesterday”—is the death-by-stingray of “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin.

Coverage of his death saturated the morning programs, and so I figured “well, holiday weekend, slow news day,” until I went online, spent 2 minutes, and looked at the queue of stories that, were I at the assignment desk, I would have wanted to get onto my show:

My point isn’t that the Irwin story is not news…it’s just not an item that should overwhelm the morning airwaves and block everything else out. It’s funny, when TV news got started, it was criticized for being a “headline service”—breadth with no depth. Now, we have a lack of breadth, but no depth, either…just endless repetition, and extensive mixing-in of non-nutritive fillers and foaming agents.

Both NBC ‘Today’ and CNN’s ‘Larry King’ have apparently chosen to use this as an excuse to run extensive amounts of two year old interviews with Irwin from back when he as accused of endangering his infant child by dangling him in the general vicinity of a croc. And showing us this will shed light on…what?

My TV producer friends, what would have happened if you peeled a minute—60 seconds—off the Irwin story to instead say “and here’s a quick summary of the day’s other news” and rattled off the stories above? Would we be better served, better informed, more ready to take on the day?

Well, 80% of the above links were from the Washington Post page 1 RSS feed (just on their front page alone!) and the rest were from NPR. That may tell you all you need to know about where to find news that truly feeds your head these days.

(By the way, I learned about Irwin right when I woke up from my number one news summarizer Sammy, and because the coffee didn’t kick in immediately I had the impression that she was telling me that guitarist Steve Earle had died in some sort of car accident involving a Corvette Stingray.)

Mmmm, coffee good.