During the late 1970s and early 1980s there was a TV programme called, “Not The 9 o’clock News”, it was a comedy sketch programme. I don’t want to plagiarise the show but I do want to bring in, “Not the 6 o’clock News”.
When I was a child I wasn’t interested in reading the paper or listening to the radio to find out what was happening in the wider world, that was for the adults to deal with. One afternoon coming home from school in a crowded bus a newspaper advertising poster with the headline “WORLD WAR 3 IMMINENT” certainly grabbed my attention though. I believed it 100% and was terrified, it had to be true, it was in the newspaper! Happily it didn’t eventuate.
When I was a teenager TV came to our area and it took over news broadcasting for most people. As technology and communications have improved I’ve seen things from all over the world often happening in real time. Broadcasters choose to report the most dramatic happenings and usually fit them all into a 30 min time slot. What this means for me is a barrage of wars, murders, robberies, flesh eating diseases, catastrophic cyclones, earthquakes, bushfires, droughts or floods causing misery all over the world. Then the ads come on for charities which use this prime time to beg me to PLEASE HELP. The overwhelmingly sad thing is, if I give my last cent it won’t stop the misery and it won’t stop the ad coming on to plead for more.
What’s the solution? For me, since I can’t watch, “Not the 6 o’clock News”, I’m choosing not to watch any News, I look on my computer and choose the articles I want to read. I do have a big concern though, about the impact this type of reporting might be having on children. There were terrible things going on in the world when I grew up but I was happily ignorant. I learnt to deal with issues in my little world, a brother who hated me and punched me each time we passed. Tough? Not when compared with a sniper taking potshots at you if you dare peek out your door! Being fed quinces and rice. Yuck? An absolute banquet if there’s no food in your Refugee Village but I didn’t even know those things existed.
How do today’s kids cope when it’s in their faces day in and day out? We don’t want to create a society of people who simply don’t care what happens to others but nor do we want a society of people who are so overwhelmed by world misery that they sink into despair. Maybe someone will produce, “Not the 6 o’clock News”, it will have interesting, varied segments and every day it will end on a positive note.