Rendered Fat Content


"I figure the whole truth will be better approximated in a volume to be published ten years from now and surrounded by enough context to bring today into clearer perspective."

Early yesterday afternoon, my Facebook Feed announced the latest breaking news. I followed the link to learn that this particular piece of breaking news was a lengthy analysis of news expected to break later that afternoon. Experts waded in to explain background and foreground, some even projecting the effects this impending breaking news might have once it actually broke. I wasted five unredeemable minutes of my afternoon on this floss. Later, the news the earlier announcement predicted, came to pass as breaking news, which washed over the late afternoon as no surprise, an anti-climax whetted by overlong anticipation. The earlier broadcast captured the gist of the actual event, with some details probably unavoidably miscast. The final breaking story, though, had by then lost much of its potential impact. I caught myself skimming through the details, more seeking to confirm the earlier implanted news than to broaden my understanding.

Breaking news might by necessity be about ninety percent distraction.
It's not fake news because, as Breaking news, it's not quite news yet, just a breaking story that journalists, copyrighters, editors, and fact checkers will be fleshing out over the upcoming time period, though it might well carry a greater impact than the later fuzzed over version. Even later, historians with access to a much wider body of material, might well (and often do) come to vastly different conclusions than those first posed by the crawling headline CNN broadcast. The crawling headline, though, would have performed its magic however unreliable its content. The competition engages now to attract attention more than inform, and nothing yet devised attracts more attention than something breaking.

With the advent and maturity of the internet, I supposed that we would all become much better informed. I grew up in a time-lagged time where I waited until the late afternoon half hour news broadcast or the next morning's paper to first learn what was broke. AM radio might have broadcast five minutes of headline news every hour, but capture hardly a quiver of attention. When real news broke, television networks would interrupt their usual game show and soap opera schedule to broadcast live from the scene, be it Dallas, or Memphis, or Cape Canaveral. Then, we'd join the journalist as each discovered the story they were covering, puzzling over the latest press release and watching the heartbroken widow try to explain the essentially unexplainable. We'd get more than gist, but feel a part of the breaking, a part of the news.

Now, with cable crawling across living rooms and instant notifications splattering across our laptops, we're never out of touch, but also, it seems, hardly touched at all. The crawl keeps us safely out from underfoot, rapt, seeking, as if the very satisfying search were the real underlying story. Flash! David was distracted for fifteen minutes this afternoon following links to a promising breaking story, only to later learn that the advertised story had not actually broken yet. Many of these flashes hardly qualify as bright-shiny, but dark-stinky. I lost my flow for a dark-stinky. Now, where did I drop my flow when so rudely interrupted?

The Muse and I cancelled our cable subscription. I can catch last night's MSNBC broadcast as an audio podcast this morning if I care to, and listen with a deeper appreciation gleaned from the morning paper and radio newscasts. Yea, the BBC got the story long before I saw it, but they also filtered out much of the initial startle before passing it along. I figure I need the buffer. The paradox of instantaneous information lies in that information amounts to digested data. No, it's not even then objective, but it carries some perspective, certainly more than any two-dimensional crawling headline could carry. I figure I can afford the clueless hours separating the alarmingly attractive announcement of impending breaking news and the actual publication of what might better serve as news. This morning's Times almost echoed what yesterday afternoon's news crawl first proclaimed, but it carried details only a certain amount of digestion ever produces. I figure the whole truth will be better approximated in a volume to be published ten years from now and surrounded by enough context to bring today into clearer perspective.

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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