God, Mom, I’m bored. There’s nothing todooooooooooooo:
Coverage of the BP oil spill has certainly reached marathon status, the
kind of thing still likely to lead on the evening newscasts — so
likely that the networks risk evoking “oh not that again” reactions
from viewers. It’s an unhappy fact of TV news life: the bigger the
story’s significance, the longer it rules the newscasts — and the
greater the danger the public will tune out.
One of the unkinder peripheral ironies of a calamity like this one: The
longer it goes on, the more likely public outrage will turn to jejune
ennui — what infuriated people when they first learned of it has
devolved into a pesky inconvenience; of course, this is only true of
those experiencing it vicariously — even if on high-def TV.
People who experience it that way, which is not really experiencing
it at all, might stop seeing it as a menace to the environment and
begin to view it as — mad though it sounds — an impertinence that
disrupts their escapist TV-viewing. As such reaction escalates, blame
shifts from the company that should have prevented the spill to the
media companies whose employees dutifully report on its virulent
Shales goes on to blame the coverage of Obama’s emotional temperature or whatever on the terribly important need to keep viewers from getting bored by the boring story that is boring about all the boring people and animals and fish that are dying because of the horrendous fuckups made by British Petroleum, which is British and therefore double-boring.
And OH MY GOD does this make me crazy. I hate this dodge, like, the press is all-powerful and all-knowing and sets standards for our national conversation, except when it’s totally powerless and at the whims of the ADD American public, who will stop watching after X number of days. In an amazing coincidence, that attention span lasts EXACTLY until the moment coverage becomes inconvenient and/or expensive. It’s so funny how that always works. You’re always able to pick a moment to convince yourself nobody gives a shit anymore, and that moment always corresponds to when you want to go home. It’s nice, in a way.
For you. Not so much, the ENTIRE GULF OF MEXICO AND EVERYONE LIVING NEAR IT.
This solipsistic asshole actually brings up the Iran hostage crisis, as if Ted Koppel would be Ted Koppel without having had the balls to stick to a story for a long goddamn time instead of wittering off whenever his bosses said they were tired of it. There are ALWAYS forces within and without a news organization telling people to get off stories they should stay on, and the greatest moments in American journalism have come when some courageous reporter says fuck you, I’m not leaving. You know, I read wanking day after day after day about the importance of the national press in framing our discourse and raising the critical issues of the day, and then I read shit like this, and nobody seems to understand you’re supposed to be the wind and not the weatherman.
If you as a journalist believe a story’s good enough to stick with, and you want people to pay attention, then you MAKE THEM PAY ATTENTION. You shove an issue in their faces day after day after day and you tell every caller who says he or she is just so tired of oily pelican pictures to shove it up their asses. You don’t want to stop covering the story? THEN DON’T STOP COVERING IT JESUS GOD. Fuck your focus groups. Fuck
the “jejune ennui” of the people you imagine don’t care anymore and
want to go back to American Idol. Fuck story fatigue. For once in your lives stick to the ideals you’re always bagging on bloggers for not having.
Sack up, and stay with the story if you want to stay with it. Or don’t, and at least have the courage to admit it wasn’t the viewers’ fault, that you just didn’t wanna anymore.
x-posted at Tbogg.