Sometimes, all you have to do is log on to the Internet for instant inspiration.
A "home page" always pops up first, and most varieties are designed to give you a quick survey of current information - news, sports, entertainment, a weather forecast, etc. Mine happens to be at charter.net, where the top headline is usually something like, "Jay Leno says he hasn't spoken to Conan O'Brien."
Like I said, instant inspiration, in this case to ponder the question: Where is America headed when it comes to getting its news?
Newspapers across the country have downsized if they haven't shut
down altogether. What used to be the "big 3" TV networks still air
their half-hour nightly news shows, but they've mostly ceded the field
of broadcast "journalism" to 24-hour cable news providers that
substitute talking heads for actual reporting.
Two of the cable conglomerates have taken to presenting the news as
if it's pro wrestling, full of easily identifiable good guys and bad
guys. Fox started this with its eternally ironic "fair and balanced"
shtick that should actually be called something like GOP-TV. MSNBC now
clearly fancies itself the liberal alternative, with a nightly assist
from Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report."
And speaking of advocacy disguised as actual news reporting and
analysis, how about that new talk show lineup on the local radio
station of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity?
Fair and balanced.
If it's preaching to the choir you're looking for, there are plenty
more subtle ways these days to get your "news" seasoned to your taste.
Log on to that aforementioned Internet, fire up the keyword searches
and let your browser carry you away to the safe haven of information
sites and blogs that slice and dice the facts just to your liking.
It's not so much that we have too many choices as that so many of
those choices are flawed by a predilection to persuade as well as
inform. Heck, most of them don't even have the resources to do their
own reporting - the enterprises doing that are the ones struggling to
Say what you will about the good old days of the monopolistic mass
media. At least when we were all reading the same papers and watching
the same TV news programs we had a common agenda of public issues to be
Information is more accessible than ever. That's great if you think
of life as a game of Trivial Pursuit with all the answers at your
fingertips. Or if you just want to immerse yourself in the opinions of
like-minded people. Or if you actually want to know why "Jay Leno says
he hasn't spoken to Conan O'Brien."
Of course you can also use your Web browser to access legitimate
news sources of organizations that are still striving to report stories
and present all sides of an issue in an unbiased manner - at least for
now. Most of them are free on-line, which is why they're having a hard
time staying in business.
Where is America headed when it comes to getting its news? That
depends on what you consider "news." The definition seems to evolve