Anyone remember the Duran Duran song Too Much Information?
Destroyed by MTV, I hate to bite the hand that feeds me so much information. The pressure’s on the screen to sell you things that you don’t need. It’s too much information for me. Hey TV child look into my eyes. Here by intervention I want your attention. Promotion boy in a suit and tie. He wants you to use it. You’re too shot to lose it. It’s pumping down the cable like never seen before. A cola manufacturer is sponsoring the war.
The first big news story I remember seeing on television is when Jessica McClure fell into a well in Midland, Texas in October, 1987. I was seven years old, and I do not think I understood what I was watching, but I knew “Baby Jessica” was in danger. I mostly remember the footage of the bright search lights and I am pretty sure the sun never rose during those almost 3 days. This was IMPORTANT. Everyone was talking about this well and how tragic the situation was. I imagined this well to look like the wishing wells of fairy tales. A brick circular structure with a bucket and a rope, and I could not for the life of me fathom why they did not just lower the bucket and have her climb in. I could be wrong, but I believe this was one of the first big media circuses to be played out on live TV with the plight of regular people as the main attraction.
The other story I remember from my childhood is the Tiananmen Square Massacre in June, 1989. I assure you I had no idea what was going on. I simply remember a morbid curiosity because they were talking about students. I was imagining a military takeover of an elementary school, that in my imagination was eerily similar to my school. I remember feeling a sense of worry that kids were not safe in schools. Ironic, since school safety is one of the hot button topics in the news today.
When I was in 6th grade, we had this news program played in home room, Channel One News. The school had been given televisions and VCRs for the classrooms in exchange for 12 minutes of our day. Seems like an okay trade to me. I do not remember much about the program except for Anderson Cooper dashing all over the world and a vague memory of Lisa Ling reporting as well. There were Pepsi commercials. There has been controversy surrounding the ethics of providing so much advertising and commercial content to kids at school, but I remember advertising on our “free” book covers the school required us to use too.
The Persian Gulf conflict (war?), the attack on the World Trade Center, the Branch Davidian standoff, the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City. . . the list goes on. These events impacted the way I viewed the world. I was acutely aware of the danger waiting for me if I strayed too far from home. It is like all the fables and fairy tales were true, if you leave the safety of your home you are bound to find trouble lurking in all the dark corners of the world.
I was lucky I lived in West Texas, and nothing bad ever happened. I do not recall many of my teachers trying to make sure we were comprehending the nature of the current events shaping the world we lived in. I feel like we were shrouded in a blanket of cotton candy, every thing would be fine as long as we stayed dry and sheltered. How do we make sure our children have access to age appropriate current events? How do we teach them to utilize all this information into something they can learn from?
My iPhone gives me all the news I could want. I get news alerts and notifications. Amber Alerts from across the state lead to a shrill and at times frightening alarm that startles everyone in the room. Every weather alert comes via text and several app notifications. There are days I am so bombarded with information I cannot help but to tune it all out. Everywhere I look someone is trying to capture my attention and sell me more crap I don’t need.
Furthermore, has anyone else noticed that Facebook seems to be a stalker? How does it determine who I may know? I only met that person one time. The ads are freaky too. How did it know I was googling green protein smoothies? I have instant access to so much data, I no longer have to remember any details. I can google it. I have not purchased a newspaper in ages. I read the news online. I have to be honest, sometimes I just get my news via other people’s posts. I know, I know. That is lazy and a good way to be misinformed.
So, what is the first news story you remember? Looking back now, did you understand the implications of it? Did it shape the way you viewed the world?