|Remember that old commercial about cereal — that it’s not just for breakfast any more? Well, not that news was most likely to be found at the breakfast table — although many people really did enjoy the morning paper with their morning coffee — but somehow morning was the time to see what was going on in the world.
And what a rude awakening it could be! Sometimes it took the edge off the smile that you had on your face, or made you have one more thing to worry about that day, or even caused you to wonder if you’d have your job much longer. Not that you weren’t needed down at the office, and not that you weren’t doing your job well enough, but just that when it comes to budget cuts and layoffs, why should you think you’d come away unscathed?
So the morning paper was not always a fun addition to the breakfast table, no matter how much anyone might have enjoyed opening that crisp, fresh-off-the-press edition of “The Morning Gazette” to take in the latest snap-crackle-pop of the news. But news obviously had a way of showing up all day long anyway, everywhere anyone went, whether they had read that morning paper or not.
“Did you hear about the shooting over at the high school this morning?” someone at the bus stop or gas station might ask. “Wasn’t that terrible about what happened to your friend’s neighbor?” your co-worker might say as you meet at the water cooler. “Can you believe that they closed down the factory? What will all those people do for work now?” you hear behind you as you’re waiting in line at the grocery store or the bank. And on and on.
News itself is broadcast all day long on TV — no surprise there, since it has been for ages it seems — whether on the news channels, at the special news times — such as the 6 o’clock or 9 o’clock news — or when interjected into any program as “breaking” news. For those who have computers, they can even learn about what’s happening in the world, their city, or their neighborhood barely minutes after it happens, since news is always streaming across the Internet, sometimes so fast that the person posting it doesn’t even take the time to verify the facts.
Such easy access to news can be said to be both a good thing and a not-so-good thing. If a bridge has just collapsed, it is good to know before you take that route to get to where you are going, to avoid getting stuck in the stalemate of those 200 cars waiting to find a way out of or around that traffic disaster. If there is an investigation into a particular banker or a particular bank’s banking practices, it is good to know about that would-be scandal before you choose to transfer all your life’s savings over to that bank. But learning about every horrible detail of every horrible event that is happening all over the world can be not only time-consuming, but actually physically draining of all your upbeat and positive energy, which you intended to use for better things.
When there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of horrible happenings, dubious disasters, or salacious scandals reported in the news, those in NewspaperLand sometimes take a little-nothing-kind-of-event and create something bigger out of it. When that happens, it is easy for those in the newspaper game — as it were — to see that “it must be a slow day for news.”
The sad part of that statement is that the worse the item about which the media writes, the better “copy” it makes for readers. So misery, injustice, disaster, inequality, and violence aside, whatever is presented to the readers must capture their attention in some kind of way.
The good news for me is that this column is on a personal note, and I am not committed to writing about things that will bring everyone down; nor am I committed to rehashing the horrors of any particular news item that — if important enough to share — our many writers already do more than adequately. And although I think we can all use a “time out” from the depressing and upsetting news of the day, I believe that there is more to a good newspaper than just reporting the latest disaster — be it whatever happened in another country, our own city, our own neighborhood or even our own courts.
Sometimes it is news to readers of this paper to learn that we offer much more than news. I am pleased that the Las Vegas Tribune can bring its readers much food for thought on many subjects, including those on a lighter note, a more pleasant note, and even on a higher note. And as long as I still have ideas and a place to put them, I’m sure the melody of those notes will linger on.
News: It’s not just for breakfast any more!
Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune. She writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Maramis, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.