Why? Why is a local school playground tussle a national news item?
Charges have been dropped for a 10-year-old Michigan boy who was accused of throwing a ball at a classmate’s head on purpose.
Most news is local and not deserving of national exposure. For example, when someone received poor service in a Starbucks because of a speech impediment, this became a national news story. Why? Solely to rile up readers with emotions. This was not worth a local news report.
Was this a national news story? Absolutely not. But today’s click-bait driven news media, with far too much air time and web pages to fill, eagerly goes after every little story as long as they can put an emotional spin on the story. The above is maybe – barely – a local news story, let alone national news. But this episode is indicative of how generally stupid, useless and emotionally triggering most “news” has become in the 21st century.
This is not a new problem for the news media – Daniel Boorstin wrote a book in 1961 discussing “pseudo events”, or perhaps today what we might term “pseudo news” or fake news. Even then there were more outlets for news than there was actual news. Thus reporters ginned up fake controversy to make a non-story into a story. When you look at “news”, you discover much news has become speculation about what may have happened or what might happen in the future. Facts no longer matter. You see – routinely – tiny little local stories blown up into a national controversy as the media attempts to keep us outraged, all the time.
Disclosure – as an 11 year old, I was recovering from a fractured skull. My school had no indoor place for me to go during the lunch hour so I had to spend my time in the asphalt area of the playground, watching other kids play. (This was several months post fracture.)
A boy on the grass field threw a football that hit me in the head, right along the fracture line. (I suspect it was an accident, but I do not know. As a high school student playing soccer in a P.E. class with a bandaged, lacerated arm, students did call out “get the guy with the bandage”.)
I do not remember much about this but putting bits and pieces together, this was witnessed by a volunteer parent yard monitor. One of my parents was notified and I was seen by a doctor that day. It was decided that the bone pieces in my head were likely knitted together by then – although my brain was jostled pretty hard by the impact.
My Mom pulled me out of school for a week until the school could provide a safe place for me during the lunch recess – away from thrown balls. The state of care of head injuries back then was appalling by today’s standards – both in the medical community and how schools dealt with injured students.
There was no news coverage of this incident. It was not even mentioned inside the school. Today it would be a national pseudo-news event if reporters could have found the right spin on the story.