Thursday, August 2, 2007

Now, Hear Me Out

While I send condolences to the families and the Minneapolis area who are inconvenienced by the failure of the I-35W bridge, I have to ask the following question: is this non-stop coverage material? All of the cable news channels are covering this nonstop, and I'm at a loss for why. This is a bad thing for the state of Minnesota, and it is a good time to study structural integrity issues for the sake of future bridge building. It's probably as good of a time for this since the failure of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge:

But, there is no new news coming out about this issue. The information is all the same. People are saying the same thing. "I'm so shocked." "I didn't expect this to happen." "It's all so real." Am I supposed to be surprised? Of course they're shocked. A huge bridge just fell into the Mississippi River! It isn't like most people walk around and go, oh, look another bridge fell.

I guess this is another good time to ask the following question, as I am someone who is just as guilty of the following: why are we so fascinated by destruction and death? The non-stop coverage is not a testament to the need of finding out the truth or understanding why this would happen. That is the role of the local news who will serve the local community that is directly affected by this event. The national news has a responsibility to give periodic updates as there are people around the country and the globe who could be affected by this event. But, continual news coverage speaks to something more macabre and sinister within our spirits as American. The loss of life is always sad, but there is a need to leave that community with its pain and check in periodically when new news arises instead of aimlessly speculating about what the causes are and who is dead. Such reporting is counterproductive to those in mourning and those who are not.

This is an event that highlights the need for more international coverage on all of our cable news networks. I'm sure that doesn't interest a lot of people. But, it would help us to avoid around-the-clock news coverage full of speculative reporting. Instead, we would hear about the failure of the Zimbabwean economy or developments in the Middle East. I think that this event highlights the need for American cable providers to pick up Al-Jazeera English, a news channel that covers all angles and all areas of the globe. While I send condolences to the families who found that their family members are dead and/or missing, this event is showing a glaring hole in the nature of American telejournalism today.