Has BP finally plugged the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico? Did a federal judge really just overturn the federal Defense of Marriage Act? Is the stock market still on its wild roller coaster ride?
I’m only asking because the news media has appeared obsessed these last few days with only two main subjects:
LeBron James and Lindsay Lohan.
To be clear, I have nothing against either of these individuals.
I’m happy for Mr. James and saddened for Ms. Lohan and her family. I feel badly for the basketball fans in Cleveland and happy for hoop aficionados in Miami. I hope Ms. Lohan can get her life back on track and stop writing vulgar messages on her finger nails.
But what has come of the news business today?
Is the industry simply reflecting the distorted priorities of the culture? Or has the business become all financially driven?
Or, have we just gone completely mad?
Maybe a little bit of all three?
Tabloid journalism is not new.
From the advent of the “Penny Press” in the early 1800s to William Randolph Hearst’s yellow journalism in the 1900s to 24-hour cable news, Americans have always seemed to be naturally drawn to the sensational. Bill Sloan, a writer and journalist who made his career working for tabloids has made the following observation:
As Hearst and those who followed in his footsteps well knew, one of the keys to successful sensationalism is to accentuate the negative. To most people, no news is good news, as the old saying goes, but for the sensationalist, just the opposite is true — good news is no news. A positive story may arouse emotions but it has no shock value. On the other hand, it’s easy to sensationalize negative stories, thanks to the shady side of human nature that invariably tends to suspect the worst about any person or situation.
And it was less than two weeks ago that Larry King, a legend in the business of discussing the news of the day, bemoaned the state of his industry as one of the reasons he was leaving his nightly gig on CNN:
“You’ve got to do the tabloid shows, which is the nature of the business,” he told the Los Angeles Times.
“It’s hard to make the case that this [He has just returned from interviewing LeBron James] is major news, but that’s what news is today.”
I think Mr. King is absolutely right. But I also wonder how much of this appeal and addiction to the sensational has distorted our overall understanding of what constitues real news? And how does this perversion influence our Christian walk?
As Christians, are we more drawn to what’s hot and trendy than we are to what’s truly important and lasting? Are we more obsessed with celebrity than we are with humility?
The tabloid headlines of today — much of it negative and depressing — will become yesterday’s news tomorrow. When we get caught up with the rest of the culture in the trivial, the tawdry and the temporal, we lose sight of the big picture. Don’t forget that we possess the greatest news the world has ever known — the very best of news —the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Despite the fact that some people have been conditioned to think that “good news is no news,” there is a world out there dying for some semblance of meaning, of hope, of lasting value that they can only find in the Gospel. It is this good news that gives me hope on even the darkest days. It’s this good news that keeps me optimistic and allows me to look ahead to the future with enthusiasm and excitement.
Yes, the Gospel, which literally does mean “good news”, is the ultimate news that we’re called to proclaim.
For the record, oil is still leaking in the Gulf, a U.S. District Judge in Massachusetts did rule that federal Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional and at the close of business today, the DOW was up 59 points, closing at 10,198.
What a world!