This I Believe

Matthew - Lake Forest, Illinois
Entered on September 30, 2006
Age Group: Under 18
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Breaking the News

All my life, my mom has strongly encouraged me to stay away from drugs and anything else that may harm my mind in any capacity. Meanwhile, she spends her days in front of the television watching the national news. “But it keeps me informed,” she claims. I beg to differ. I believe that the major news networks are corrupting both the minds and perspectives of their viewers. To many people, the news is addicting. Avid watchers can’t wake up without, can’t eat lunch without, and can’t even fall asleep without hearing the latest most breaking news. What do we seek in the news? The news doesn’t serve information; it serves depression in half-hour sessions. The news is constantly placing trauma and despair in the minds of its viewers, and for this reason it is a depressant. America’s biggest drug fiasco, lay not in cocaine, or tobacco, or even caffeine, but in the news.

Every morning before school, my mother blesses me with a warm breakfast complete with a two-egg omelet, fresh fruit, and a tall glass of milk. Sounds enjoyable right? Well, as spoiled as it may seem, this is often the worst part of my day, because she insists upon watching CNN or MSNBC. My first thoughts of the day are polluted with death tolls in Iraq, heart-breaking stories in the aftermath of Katrina, and word of new traces of mad-cow disease in America’s beef (as I chew my sausage). These stories never cease to sicken me, and while I should be starting my day off positive, more often than not, I begin in a state of near depression. The stories are true, yet exaggerated because the journalists juxtapose the most outraging facts in order to create the most powerful story.

Even when the news is somewhat slow, the major networks sugar coat stories with eye-catching headlines such as “Breaking News.” Recently I stumbled across a headline which read “BREAKING NEWS: N’Sync’s Lance Bass is Gay.” This is by no means breaking news, or surprising for that matter. Furthermore, how can such a headline be shared between stories of meaningless celebrity gossip and important news such as terror alerts? Plain and simple, the networks don’t care about delivering groundbreaking stories, but rather getting the best ratings as possible. Like a successful drug-dealer, the networks have two goals. One: to attract the attention of potential customers, and two: to keep them coming back for more.

In 2005 the US forces were fully engaged in battle against Iraq, but what was on the minds of most Americans? Who killed Lacy Peterson? The news networks were devoting more time to Scott Peterson’s new hair-do than they were to a newly formed democracy in Iraq. This story is without a doubt tragic, but in the large scheme of things it is insignificant. People are killed everyday, including those defending our freedom. So what makes Lacy special? She was attractive. Have you ever seen a story about an unattractive girl being kidnapped? No, but there seems to be an abundance of cute sixteen year old blonds getting abducted. Networks don’t pick the most imperative stories, but rather the ones that make them the most money. The news is no longer the vital source of information that it once was, but merely a drug seeking to attract and addict as many viewers as possible.