Wednesday, October 13, 2010

where is dostoevsky when you need him?

this morning, while i was getting ready, i flipped on CNN. it's what i do when i'm in a hotel. this morning, it was all chilean mine rescue, all the time. i watched the third guy coming up out of the hole and being released from his little cage, which is dubbed the fenix, i guess to signify rebirth. and it was a birth of sorts, as he came up the long canal into the light of the world again, to the waiting arms of his wife. and it was a touching moment.

but the endless analysis and gushing and hype by the newscasters was simply too much. they showed a psychological "expert," who, sounding no more authoritative than a random person on the street, exclaimed in completely general terms, about how psychologically difficult it would be for them. the CNN reporter simply exclaimed along with her, not asking any deeper questions to elicit a more meaty expert response. but perhaps she knew she didn't have an expert on her hands at all. what i fear is that she didn't know that. she simply thought it was her role to play sentimental drama queen together with this woman on camera, as they breathlessly watched footage of the first three miners hugging their families. it's a pity, as i think the psychological aspects of this experience on the miners must be fascinating.

the job behind this rescue is a big one and it is an amazing story. i was a little surprised that the strongest were brought up first. i'd have thought they'd bring up the ones most in need of medical attention, but maybe it made for better television that the first men stepped out, smiling and looking surprisingly robust in their trendy sunglasses (for eye protection since they'd been away from the light for 2 long months and undoubtedly donated by oakley or ray ban or some such company).

i wonder if, thanks to the instant transmission of information and the way that news is covered completely while it's happening, rather than waiting for it to happen, we have lost our ability to know what the story actually is. if we're developing the story on the fly, as it's happening, there's nothing reflective it and no opportunity to draw deeper meaning, or get at the essence of the story.

dostoevsky developed the brothers karamazov on the fly. he published it under great duress and financial pressure, as well as time pressure, in weekly installments, plotting it as he frantically wrote. but sadly, it seems that there are few dostoevskys out there today, and so we watch stories unfold on television...

8 comments:

Helen said...

wow, all I can say is You are very perceptive.. and you are right about how real news can be engineered to be delivered .

Gwen said...

Ah, Julie. You are such a woman after my own thinky heart. This reminds me of all the discussions I had with my professor in my favorite grad school class about the media. School! I miss it!

Think about how many hours of news must be filled by someone. It's probably too much to expect every one of those people to be smart enough to do a good job, right? Right.

Lisa-Marie said...

The BBC coverage of it is very good, but it does tend to have a bit more depth than most news channels, being public rather than owned by anyone (It's paid for by our TV licences).

They brought the strongest out first to see how they dealt with an hour in a small space in the dark affected them, and based on that to judge if those who might not be completely stable would be ok.

Elizabeth said...

Hope you are doing ok. Thinking about you.

Pia K said...

they were brought up in 4 groups, first the second strongest (in case anything went wrong on the way up), then the weakest, then the strongest and then the helpers who went down to "cheer them up". that's what swedish morning tv said, and as we all know swedish morning tv is very trustworthy...;)

they also had some psychologist/trauma expert in the studio and while he probably had been working with this for many years he looked like something that had been rescued from under a rock. and talked like that too. creepy.

that said, i feel sad for people who cling on to these kind of stories unfolding, we tragically live in the era of instant gratification without deeper meaning and analyzing.

kristina - no penny for them said...

just think about all the background stories lurking there - and that you don't really hear/see/read about. what a missed opportunity. i love conspiracy theories and one of them i have is: the media is trying to make us dumber and dumber by the day so that it's less hassle for them to feed us. seems to work most of the time.

M said...

This is exactly why we haven't had a TV for most of the last 13 years.... yuck.

Michelle/Madison

smith kaich jones said...

too many "journalists", and i use the word quite loosely. everybody be wantin' to see themselves on tv and it must be an easy degree.