I’m all paneled out.
One minute of news followed by ten minutes with a panel of analysts and commentators is wearing me down. It doesn’t matter if the source is traditional network news, cable news, or streaming services. They all do the same thing.
Perhaps the lead story is “Crisis at the Border.” An actual reporter at the border delivers the news. Which is helpful.
But then it’s followed by a discussion panel with experts. Each, in their own way, shares their belief that there’s a crisis at the border. Same information, talked about over and over again.
I get it. Anyone who has ever been a graduate student and forced to participate in student online discussions about an assigned reading has been through the same scenario. One student arrives at the obvious conclusion and posts a comment. Then it’s followed by others, each in their own way, sharing their consensus.
The repetitiveness almost drives you to make an outlandish and provocative post, just to interject something new in the conversation.
Here’s the one time when panels of analysts and commentators can work. Bring a little humor to the conversation. Or at least something fresh to think about. The introduction of the news item already carried the meat of the topic. If we must now sit through a panel, bring the entertainment. After all, the average viewer has worked all day. And might be suffering from student online discussion post-traumatic stress disorder.
If the panel concept must be kept, inform and then entertain. Like “The Five,” and “Gutfeld!”
But if we’re to truly be an informed citizenry, we need more information. The media doesn’t tell us what to think, but it does tell us what to think about. Big difference. Viewers are driven to think about a handful of sensational stories instead of being exposed to a news blitz of multiple events happening in the country and world.
With the recent ousting of Tucker Carlson from Fox News, there’s an opportunity for a good old-fashioned news show to be plugged into that time slot. How about an hour of straight national and international news? No panels. No, “I think that too,” wasting of time. It could be called the “No Panel News Hour.” Run stories that we might not hear elsewhere in TV land: China’s increasing control of ports around the world, Democrats’ continued push for D.C. statehood, Turkey’s election progress, HSA contribution limits increasing for 2024, U.S. military falling behind Russia and China in developing hypersonic missiles.
There are stories out there. Lots of them. They would affect our vote. If we knew about them.
Perhaps stationing competent reporters around the country and world is more difficult and too costly. And maybe panels are cheap and easy.
But voters deserve better than the cheap and easy. Many times, the difficult thing is the right thing to do.
Opinion and news analysis have its place. This, too, is an opinion piece. But broadcast journalism is tilting toward less news and more news analysis. Programming with pundits may be here to stay, but reserve a time slot or two for hard-core news reporting.
If it can’t happen, it may be time to cancel cable news subscriptions and completely rely on newspapers or other media sources.
There’s another election around the corner, and I just can’t look at Karl Rove’s whiteboard anymore.