There’s a long-growing issue with old school news coverage.
Old school. You know, transmitting messages using antiquated Stone Age methods like smoke signals, newspapers and television. The growing issue is that these methods of delivering news aren’t growing.
The newspaper industry has seen a circulation drop from more than 60 million subscribers from the 1960s-1990s to just more than 30 million today, according to Pew Research Center. Pew also shows broadcast news is faring no better, falling from an average viewership of 42.3 million in 1980 to 20.7 million in 2017 (I wonder how many of these viewers still wonder what happened to that trustworthy Brian Williams and that nice Matt Lauer. Just to clarify, both newsmen were fired for being awful people).
However, factoring in cable and internet news, the consumption of news in general has increased. This is because of four factors: 1) there are more media outlets today, 2) some of those media outlets show boobs, 3) media consumption is portable and immediate, and, even more important than No. 2 is 4) the average person the media reports on has gotten really, really stupid.
Stupid people are the fun part of journalism. Let’s take a look.
Headline: “This is why you shouldn't bite an iPhone battery.”
Story: A man walked into an electronics store in China to buy a replacement battery for his iPhone. To show his old battery was faulty, he put it into his mouth and bit it, as is apparently required by the Apple User Agreement (it isn’t). The battery exploded and even though the man wasn’t seriously injured, the video of this incident still got more than 5 million hits on the internet.
Headline: “Taco Bell worker sought in ‘Hot Burrito’ assault.”
Story: A Spartanburg, South Carolina, Taco Bell employee threw a burrito at his boss because he didn’t want to work the morning shift. The manager told police melted cheese got on her arm and her pants.
What’s more stupid, the assault, or the fact someone considered this news.
Headline: “Almost 100 people have called Poison Control for eating Tide Pods this year.”
Story: In an amazingly well reasoned bit of thinking, teens somewhere decided it would be fun to eat Tide Pods. These blue, white and orange balls are basically large pill capsules, but instead of holding something useful like Prozac, the pills are full of Tide laundry detergent, which is, not surprisingly, poisonous.
It’s also lazy. Back in my day we had to eat loose Tide right out of the box like our parents and their parents before them.
Poison Control Centers received more than 90 Tide Pod Challenge calls in the first three weeks of 2018.
“We cannot stress enough how dangerous this is to the health of individuals,” American Association of Poison Control Centers head Stephen Kaminsky said on the organization’s website. “It can lead to seizure, pulmonary edema, respiratory arrest, coma, and even death.”
Morons. Kaminsky didn't say this, it’s just implied.
Headline: “Man ripped urinal from restaurant bathroom wall, ran away naked into woods.”
Story: A drunk Tallahassee, Florida, man ripped a urinal off the wall of the Miller’s Ale House bathroom and, when confronted by employees, stripped off his wet clothing and disappeared into the woods.
The Tallahassee Police posted the following on Twitter: “I hate to question anyone’s escape plan, but a change of clothes never really works and a grown man running around naked is certainly going to attract more attention than whatever he was wearing prior to. Plus you have to wonder how that plan turned out for him … you know… naked… woods.”
As far as the cops know, the naked drunk man is still in the woods, which is fine by me, because as long as there are idiots at large, there will always be news.
– Jason’s newest novel, “Bad Day for the Apocalypse,” is available at jasonoffutt.com.