The Old Coot watches the puppy stories, but reads the news

The network evening news on TV is usually bad: accidents, extreme weather, crime and the like. That’s what makes it news. We all know that, yet we complain that the media focuses on bad news. But if they didn’t, they’d go out of business. No one would watch. 

Ever stop to gaze at a car coming to a red light and take note that it came to a full stop? Of course not! We stop and gawk only when the car has gone through the red light and crashed into a vehicle coming the other way, with police cars, lights flashing at the scene along with fire trucks and ambulances off to the side, while a wrecker tries to clear the mess out of the way.

We’re drawn to the scene like a moth to the flame. The media knows this, yet is sensitive to the criticism that all they give us is bad news. They’ve tried to respond to the criticism by slipping in an uplifting, feel good, positive item at the end of each broadcast. 

I’ve noticed a pattern in these “cute little puppy” stories. The worse the news is that day, the more syrup they pour on the puppy story. You don’t have to watch the entire news anymore; you can tune in for the last few minutes and get a sense of what kind of day it’s been. 

If the cute little puppy story is really, really, heart wrenching but ends on a positive note, you know the news that day was really bad. If it’s a so-so, ho-hum item, like a woman found her lost ring sort of thing, you know it was not a tragic news day (most of which you can do nothing about). 

It’s a wise move to limit your face time with the evening news to just the cute little puppy segment, ridding your life of an overdose of negativity. Read the news in the paper instead, where you can limit your exposure by glancing at the headline and turning the page if you don’t want to experience the gore. Or, skim the item to get the gist, but not the gore. 

You’re in charge with a newspaper, not some TV executive focused on ratings who reduce the news to the worst tragedies of the day, and politics. Now that I think about it, they are one and the same. 

Stick with the puppy; your outlook on life will improve immensely. 

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