What is the media? In its simplest form, a bunch of people who believe they know what issues we should be concerned with and present it to us in various forms.
Here is what some of the headlines those people chose for us to read a few Fridays ago in the Toronto Star. Most of us read it at breakfast: TTC slashes services on 62 routes; CBC chief defends secrets; Aboriginals agony must lead to action; Canadian incomes dropping, report finds; Another mobster shot dead in Montreal; Judges plagiarism sends case to top court; Portrait of a “very sad” teenager; 600 disabled dogs to be put up for adoption; Queen’s Park offering crumbs to Ontario’s poor; Sri Lanka counts civilian deaths to counter claims of massacres; Iran claims 12 arrested were helping Israel; Activist fights Europe’s last dictatorship; Saleh’s messy exit no solace to Yemenis.
So it’s 7 a.m. You’re eating toast with blackberry jam. Dyspepsia builds as you are bombarded by negative news created by downbeat word smithies and headlines that encourage a sense of “man, are we in trouble.” Your response, after digesting the tragedy of 600 disabled dogs, is one of fear and despair.
You continue reading the local news in the GTA section. The morning smile that bejewelled your face earlier has somersaulted. You’re now rubbing your forehead with Chinese Tiger Balm ointment. The headlines read: Victim begged assailant to kill her; Ombud blasts children’s services; Family fights school board; Second consultant suggests closing libraries; Discipline cops who lie in court, lawyer urges.
You quickly realize why seniors frequently stop reading newspapers. The sun has barely risen, and editors, writers and publishers have shared with us intimidate details about the beating of a community member and a journey taking our libraries the way of the typewriter. We now know, by 7:25 a.m., that cops lie in court, and children’s services – services meant to protect vulnerable kids – are under attack.
Life is closing in. Your media is telling you everything is mostly bad; our society is morally penniless; we live in a dangerous city, province and world despite the facts violent crime is generally down.
Respite? The news section is sitting on the chair next to you, creased and comprehended. Excited you pick up the entertainment section, hoping to proverbially flip open a Mary Poppinesk umbrella and fly through the literary air with good news. While you wipe grapefruit juice out of your eye, you read: There’s no way to duplicate Monroe mystique; Actress still has growing up to do; Errol Morris tells us what we already know; Red is no marriage made in heaven; Elite Squad shows a Brazil rife with corruption.
You’re now sliding off your chair – sagging to the floor – hoping the Business Section and Life sections will inflate your crushed spirit. And you read: Top court won’t let U.S. steel appeal; RIM PlayBook’s flawed but a deal; Smothered boyfriend needs space from you; Co-sleeping advocates say ads go too far…
…and you slink out the house weary about the state of our world, slip into your car and turn on the news. The newscaster belts out with calm concern, “Today, winds will blow you into the river, and bank rates will bankrupt your savings. The city’s 50th murder happened outside your doorstep, and Lindsey Lohan has broken parole.”
And she smiles and concludes, “Have a nice day.”
Media, be more positive. You’re hurting us.