Tuesday, July 23, 2013

How much is too much?

I'm trying to think of something good to say about all the press coverage surrounding the birth of the child of the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, and I really, well, can't.

Now, I'm not saying anything uncomplimentary about the Prince and the Duchess and the new prince; I saw the tape of their emergence from the hospital with the new baby and I think they handled the moment very well, considering all the publicity surrounding her pregnancy and the birth. It isn't their fault that the press has been covering this obsessively pretty much since the two of them got married and the speculation started regarding how soon she would get pregnant.

And I'm not saying that the Duchess's pregnancy and the birth of their child should have been ignored by the media. William is going to be king someday, and the baby after him. This demands that the boy's birth be noted.

But Geez Louise...do the American media really have to devote hours of coverage when there are much more important things going on in the world?

Of course, I'm not a big fan of wall-to-wall coverage of most news events. There are a few instances when it is appropriate, but those are few and far between. The recent crash/hard-landing of the Asiana Airlines plane at San Francisco International Airport, for example. Yes, it was a very bad thing, but after it happened at a bit before noon local time in the morning, did the cable news networks really need to be still going wall-to-wall that night, hours after it was clear that all the passengers were accounted for? I realize that it was a weekend, and weekend days are traditionally slow news days, but still.

I'm ambivalent about the coverage of the George Zimmerman trial. On the one hand, there were and are serious issues surrounding the murder of Trayvon Martin - and, yes, I realize that by using that emotionally charged word I am exposing my own biases regarding the case - and there was a certain value in broadcasting the trial as it happened. And, some of the many extra hours of commentary broadcast outside of the trial itself made points that needed to be made. But the trial and its aftermath lasted weeks (and is still going on), and there was a lot of the same people saying the same things over and over and over again. The fact that I agreed with some of the things that were being said repeatedly does not alter my feeling that the coverage reached the point of being way too much in the way of saturation coverage well before the jury reached their verdict.

Well, at least the birth of the new prince is good news. Mother and baby appear to be doing well, and that's nice. But it would be even nicer if the media would report the news when it happens - not for hours, days, weeks, sometimes months before anything really happens - and the move on to the next thing.

Which brings up a point. Have you noticed how much of news reports these days has become reporting on things that are scheduled to happen, or expected to happen, or feared to happen, rather than waiting for something to happen and then reporting it? That was very much what happened today with the coverage of the happy family leaving the hospital in London, to the point of giving updates on the latest the reporters had heard about what time the departure was going to occur, complete with a camera focused on the door the Prince, the Duchess, and the new prince were expected to emerge from. It became news when they did, indeed, come through the door. Until then, it was just a really boring picture of a door with a reporter's voice droning on over the picture.

Really, I'm not trying to be obnoxiously critical. Maybe I'm just sensitive to this because I've been stuck at home this summer and watching much too much television...and way, way too much news. On the other hand, I think there were some things that have gone on this summer that got skipped over all too quickly in favor of "flavor of the week" stories that deserved to be reported but not in the obsessive detail that we were treated to.

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