Saturday, December 19, 2009

Past Deadline: Don't Believe the Hype

Mostly I don’t even want to bring this up. If it weren’t for my interest in spin and the fact the kids didn’t do anything incredibly bizarre this week, I probably would just grumble and carry on without mentioning it.

The thing is, I am a bit of a news junky. I mean, I worked as a reporter for almost seven years, for crying out loud. I write media releases for a living. My day doesn’t feel complete if I can’t sit on the couch next to Groom-boy at 11 o’clock for our nightly CTV News critique. We watch, we mock, we comment on Lloyd’s hair and make-up, we make tsking noises. Whatever floats your boat, right?

In fact, if I am late for the start of the news, I will almost always enter the room and ask, “What have I missed? Do we have to evacuate?” Almost always the answer is “no.” I take lead stories seriously. They are supposed to be about Very Important Things.

So when I turned on the news the other morning I was just in time to hear the newsreader announce there was “breaking news.” Now, when I hear the words “breaking news” I tend to want to gather up the children and pets and grab the emergency kit. Flashlights? Check. Canned goods? Check. Water? Check. Batteries? Check.

Clearly, my Spidey senses were tingling. I braced for that evacuation order or for news that someone crucial to the planet had died in a horrible way or that life as we know it was about to change.

(Yes, I think terrible thoughts.)

What did I hear on Tuesday morning? The “breaking news” was that, some six hours earlier, a woman in the Florida home of Tiger Woods had been taken to the hospital by ambulance. And, even worse than that, they really didn’t know anything more than the fact someone who looked kinda sorta possibly like Tiger’s wife was following the ambulance in a vehicle with a licence plate that was only two numbers off of Tiger’s wrecked-up SUV’s plate, so it probably maybe could be possibly one of Tiger’s cars.


Omigod. I know. I was stunned [dripping sarcasm here].

Once I got over the initial shock of the “breaking news” being six hours old, I managed to get my heart rate down enough to put away my canned ravioli, batteries, bandages and whistle and carry on with my day. It was horribly difficult, but I resisted the urge to glue myself to the television and follow this story.


I hasten to add I am sorry to hear that Tiger’s mother-in-law collapsed due to a stomach ailment. If I were related to Tiger Woods in any way I probably would be having stomach pains, too. Nevertheless, is this breaking-news-stop-the-presses kinda stuff?

Well, obviously, it appears to be. Why the heck is that? How have we become a society that needs to know – right now – about the stomach pains of the mother-in-law of an uber-wealthy celebrity golfer who got caught with his pants down a whole bunch of times when everyone thought he was a saint?

Jiminy! I know way more about Tiger Woods than I ever wanted to know – and I wasn’t even trying!

I applaud any news agency that did not lead with that story on Tuesday. Unfortunately I just don’t have time to screen them all.

Groom-boy says Tiger should have done what David Letterman did. Dave, as you may recall, got caught up in an extortion scandal regarding his indiscretions with staff on his show. Rather than trying to hide the story, he came out with it on his show, apologized, made quite a few self-deprecating jokes, and it appears the viewing public has moved on.

And, yes, Groom-boy and I discuss these things. We usually say “tsk.” The spin, however, intrigues us. (And I recognize the irony that I have contributed to the whole mess by writing an entire column about Tiger Woods.)

The trouble with being a news junkie is that, like all junk food, some of it makes you a bit nauseous after a while. We should probably stick to the healthy news from now on. Now, where does one find that healthy news?
(Published in The Perth Courier on Tuesday, Dec. 15/09. I'm a bit late getting this one posted!)

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