Tag Archives: opinions

Imagine, Selling Fear?

I used to work in broadcasting. Back in those days (I hate when I hear myself say that), to produce even a half hour of local news cost an astounding sum of money. I am going to share with you what I learned from years of working in TV; the programs exist to fill the spaces between commercials and the commercials (which exploit every conceivable weakness and fear in human-kind) bring in revenue which is mostly used to fund news departments. So when CNN launched 24hr News on June 1st, 1980 almost anyone who worked in the news industry thought it would be unsustainable and a whopping financial flop. That was over 35 years ago.

In spite of the unlimited video recording devices in our back pockets, TV news remains astronomically expensive to produce. Soon TV executives came to realize that it was too expensive to send reporters out to report on actual news and much LESS expensive to hire personalities to give their opinions on perceived news. Then those opinions can be played over and over until we accept opinion as fact. These are the people who are molding our history now. Heck, even Glenn Beck is writing and producing History House, preserving his version of history in stories for children who, he imagines, are just waiting for his opinions.

I recently met a group of friends discussing the violent crime rate and what we could do, as concerned citizens, to reduce it. If these fine people had read FBI reports instead of listening to 24hr News they would know that since the early 1990’s crime in America has dropped… sharply. We have reduced crime. We continue to reduce crime. Crime rates now are almost as low they were in 1960. That is fact (please google the FBI violent crime statistics if you doubt this), but how can you convince someone who watches the news… for the news cycle knows how remarkably effective fear is at keeping our eyes on the screen. They run and re-run opinions, between re-runs of shooting and gore… until we accept that NOW is… (Insert computer generated explosion) an unbelievably horrible time in which to live.

So I’m just going to come out and say this… TV is not real. TV news is an illusion. Magic pictures fly through the air. They invade our homes like body snatchers for profit, paid for by commercials selling products that promise to make us feel better. TV is turning us into a nation of frightened people and that’s a pretty sad commentary on the Home of the Brave.

All the while the world improves… silently.

Six months after the debut of CNN, singer/songwriter, John Lennon was shot down outside his home in New York City. It was run and re-run, between ads for deodorant and aspirin. You might have seen a picture of him on my FB page on the anniversary of his death. I reposted it from a woman named Chiron O’Keefe who keeps better accounts of such things. A day later I heard the lyrics of his song:

“A very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, let’s hope it’s a good one without any fear.”

And that is what I wish for too.

So, make it a good one. And if you want to watch your news, by all means, watch. Just remember that fear has been brought to you by someone who just wimagineants to sell you something.

Happy 5th,



Filed under writing

Writing Styles Have Changed

I’m reading a book right now by Patricia Wentworth, published in 1953. Although I’m very much enjoying this book, I’m finding the going slower than in the novels of today, which started me thinking. Patricia Wentworth was English, which partially accounts for her writing style, and she was from another generation of writers. Born in India in 1878 and privately educated, she was most famous for her Miss Maud Silver mystery series, although her career as an author spanned many decades with varied series and stand alone novels.

Her language is more literary than works of today and she uses larger, more obscure words, which I’m finding fascinating. I love to learn new words and have been consulting the dictionary for each one I’m not familiar with. She never would have ended the previous sentence with a preposition, by the way!

When I was writing my book, SHE HAD TO KNOW, my first drafts had “bigger” words, ones I thought described the situation or setting much better than any others I might have used in ordinary conversation, but I was discouraged from doing much of that in today’s market. Interesting, huh? I was encouraged to write simply and plainly so the reader’s experience would be smooth and rapid. I have to admit, I was a bit disappointed with that advice. In my humble opinion, some words are better than others and I had spent countless hours finding just the perfect words to explain my meaning.  However, I wanted to be published and I was confident editors certainly knew more than I, so I cut out many of the lovely words I had so painstakingly inserted.

Perhaps this situation is a generational one since, by some, I am now considered a senior . My reading experiences started earlier than that of many readers today, but I keep hearing phrases like, “Books today are being dumbed down.” Is that actually true? Is it true only in genre fiction? It definitely isn’t true with all the books I read, but many on the market are meant to be fast reads. Could that be considered dumbing down? People today have busy lives and they don’t want to spend time looking up words in a dictionary in order to understand what an author is saying. Is that true?

I guess, for me, I like a mixture of reading material. Sometimes I don’t want to have to think too hard. I just want to escape into someone else’s world for a short time. And sometimes I want to learn something that takes a bit more time and effort.

What is your opinion? How do you like to read? Am I completely off base?


Filed under books, fiction, musings, writing