This, That and Other Stuff

Bob Neuman

Today there is old news, new news, fake news and breaking news. Choose the channel and watch news on it nearly 24 hours a day.

Way back, the newspaper was the main way for the public to learn what happened each day. Later came the radio as well. During that era, SunBird residents might recall certain commentators they tuned in.

Edward R. Murrow (1908-1965) was a dire man, a journalist who gained fame partly for his broadcasting during WW II in the combat sites of Europe.

When television was new, he did his show in a semi-dark room, reclining in a chair and smoking cigarettes as he read. He admitted he smoked 60 to 65 a day and that he was uncomfortable if he didn’t have one in his mouth each 15 minutes. Not surprisingly, he perished with cancer.

A second journalist who began on early radio and most of us recall was Walter Cronkite who was born in 1916 and died at age 92. Murrow and Cronkite fought the majority of time over the nuisances of news reporting. Cronkite was one of the main commentators for President Kennedy’s assassination. His sign-off at the end of his news show was “And that’s the way it was.”

It is safe to say that those beginning journalists attested merely to reporting the daily news and not introducing their own viewpoints. Would that not be novel today? News programs have changed… and, in my opinion, not for the better.

Here is what you probably see after pushing your remote to settle back to relax to take in today’s happenings.

First, the show begins with thundering music that is followed with an elaborate room filled with many flashing lights and showing the person who will bring the news. He or she will tell you bits of breaking news you will hear only if you remain with their channel. (Do you ever wonder why you never hear it?) At that moment, there is a series of commercials lasting an average of five minutes, back to the show for two minutes of so-called news… usually murder or mayhem, back then for another five minutes of commercials. And so it goes.

Before actually arriving at any news, commentators have an interim of prattle, perhaps about what their dogs ate for breakfast. We squirm.

Radio speakers were trained proper grammar and how to develop a neutral dialect. Producers today have derived a method of saving money by skipping that part. We hear things like “fer” instead of “for” and other horrible grammar.

However, women commentators obviously have some training. For example, are you aware how loud and fast they speak? The only words for their dialect might be brassy or pushy. Another device most women seem to employ is talking way down in their gullets and sounding more like the Chipmunks or Elmer Fudd.

One look at the women’s contracts might uncover a clause stating it’s mandatory their dress be a foot above their knees and they wear fake eyelashes and a pound of make-up.

The worst may be a panel of four, all rudely screaming and interrupting to drown out each other. And… unfortunately, that’s the way it is.