“The news is too depressing”… says the viewer to Katie Couric

The Times has a piece covering CBS news and its plans for a rather intensive launch of the new product, with Ms. Couric at the anchor desk. The Times qualified the Couric post as the first female sole anchor of a major network news cast. Something striking however was a comment Couric made regarding feedback she was getting from potential viewers regarding what they would like the news to be.

Longer news stories, with an eye towards how these stories are relevant to the viewers lives would seem rather compelling of a challenge. However, the complaint that the news is too depressing would seem to point the finger of newscasting in sideways direction.

While subtle, the comment clearly suggests that the news is not only a production, but a perspective. And somehow this perspective could be made not only more relevant, but also more cheery – or at least more encouraging.

I find this opinion to be sideways as it would seem we have totally disconnected what we see on TV as the news, our possible, collective contribution to this news, or our shared experience of the events that make the news. National, World and perhaps even Local events take place “out there,” and are brought to our living room (or cell phone, computer, etc). And what is going on out there wouldn’t be so depressing if you just looked at it a different way, or looked at something completely different. What is going on out there is only relevant when it directly affects our own lives, and is somewhat irrelevant when it only affects the lives of others.
It would seem rather interesting that the media revolution, supposedly the means by which the world would become the global village, has only substantiated our sense of being individual islands. We don’t feel empowered enough to construct a world in which the news might be less depressing, or feel connected enough to think what affects others as inherently relevant to ourselves, but instead request that the news cover less depressing events.

Whether wrong or right, this request for happy, personally relevant news seems sideways to me.


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