Every now and then my frustration with the media builds and builds until it bursts into a post. Today is such a day.
(a) Television in NZ has joined the global craze for "breaking news" flashes across the screen. While this creates an immediacy and an intensity designed to hold viewers, none of this should be confused with depth or significance. I have yet to see an important story follow the flash. One of the enduring powers of the media is NOT just the angle they put on a given story, but what they choose the story will be that they give us.
(b) TV3 is blanketing the country with huge billboards that say something like "It is all about the story". I am grateful for the reminder. However the image clutters the message in that the entity which dominates every image is the TV3 reporter. Over the last few years - probably as the competition heats up - I have noticed an increasing focus on the reporter in the way a story is relayed. In reality "it is far too much about the reporter." The medium is clouding the message, if not eclipsing it at times. Whatever happened to TV being a mere "channel" for the news?
(c) As for Swine Flu. Yes, it is something about which to be concerned. However I am left wondering whether some of those ridiculously sensational headlines that we have seen have more to do with creating a story in a way that plays on peoples' fears in order to "sell" the news in a way that is increasingly profitable. In financially tough times the media moguls have seen an opportunity to make a buck. Too cynical? I'll need some convincing to change my mind!
Then I think about the other news we talk about - the good news, the gospel of Jesus - and how we report it to today. God forbid that a variant of (a) occur whereby we treat people to a series of intense 'breaking news' items that keep people living in shallow-lands and miss the headline significance of the gospel. God forbid that a variant of (b) occur whereby we allow the messenger to eclipse the message as the gospel is lost in a clutter associated with the preacher:teacher and we forget that it is all about the story. God forbid that a variant of (c) occur whereby we allow marketing forces to take over our approach to the point where we miscontrue what is dangerous and wrong - or sinful and evil - as we pursue the creation of an impression that we are successful or effective.
The good news is true news before it is any other kind of news. Our approaches with it must be consistent with this feature.