I may have offended a few folks recently when I asked (rather emphatically) to be excluded from all the helpful, breathless, up-to-the-minute crap about the Boston Marathon bombings. Sorry for the offense, but it wasn’t really my fault. If you people weren’t in the habit of (1) getting your information from the wrong places; and (2) blasting it all around to your Friends, Contacts, Correspondents and who-the-hell-ever else without asking them if they want the benefit of your curatorship, it wouldn’t have been necessary. Why do I think it was necessary? Well…
Events of the past few days have demonstrated that more than adequately, I believe. All the media have been blasting out every bit of information and ephemera about the events in Boston, and what did they accomplish? Folks on the Internet, perusing available coverage, falsely accused a number of bystanders of being accomplices. CNN and others adverted to a completely unrelated issue of a student missing from a nearby university for a few weeks, and intimated that he might have been involved. That has since proven to be nonsense, but tell that to the poor s.o.b. who will have it following him for the rest of his life. All sorts of bits and pieces have been floating around and reported by supposedly responsible — and patently less responsible — sources, and as Mark Twain once remarked, so many commentators have shone darkness on the subject that we shall soon know nothing about it at all.
The penchant for breaking news has ruined news. I almost never follow news in the electronic media — practically never watch TV at all — for that very reason. The rush to be the first with every little tidbit insures that a lot of the tidbits will be so fresh they’re rotten. As was suggested today in an excellent article in Slate, the best way to follow breaking events is to turn off all electronic media, refuse to discuss the issue at all, and then read a couple of well-researched and thought-out articles in one of the newspapers of record the next day. (Personally, I recommend The Christian Science Monitor, New York Times, and Al Jazeera for a well-balanced range.) I’ve been doing it for years, with the result that I save a lot of time, emotion, and come out at the end considerably less confused.
So, again, sorry for any offense. But now that you get the idea, why not carry the concept over to the next breaking news? Rest assured that if I’m interested, I’ll be on it as soon as the flames have had time to die down. News, like revenge, is a meal best eaten cold.