Jewish World Review Jan. 21, 2003 / 18 Shevat, 5763
Spinning through the 'newscycle'
I've come to hate some things with a visceral force so severe that it
can actually propel me backwards across a room. As a matter of fact,
I've come to believe that my hatred could actually become a new energy
source, if channeled properly.
One of the things I hate is the term, "newscycle." What this term
actually means is anybody's guess, but it seems to posit a universe in
which events, like milk, have a shelf life, after which they cannot be
Now, certainly some events wear thin quickly -- a movie premier, for
example, a sporting event, an election and other events seem to linger
much longer than perhaps they should or the mysterious persistent media
presence of the Reverend Al Sharpton.
But by and large the concept of a "newscycle" only leads to flurries of
hysteria. Remember Gary Condit? Gary Condit was pilloried in the media,
rightly I believe, but what has happened since his fall from grace?
Chandra Levy s killer is still missing, I believe. Certainly updates
about the search for him, along with the latest on JonBenet Ramsey,
Winona Ryder, and Robert Blake, still pop up, buried somewhere on page
When we begin coverage of troubling tales by screaming the story in a
tone reserved in prior generations for major earthquakes, or
declarations of war, we are setting up a cycle already meant to spiral
down into the void. Where else can it go?
When the strident earnest voices of concern shout some new outrage for
our benefit, they aren't like the boy who cried wolf, exactly after
all, they are calling our attention to real wolves.
But what seems to happen is that after screaming wolf, for however
long the news cycle lasts, after all descriptions of the wolf have been
exhausted, all possible dangers posed by the wolf described, all
circumstances causing the wolf to appear at our door discussed, our
pundits and newzies have shouted themselves hoarse.
Only some fresh new hell can revive their strained vocal cords,
rejuvenate them, make them straighten their garb, and thrust their
microphones once again to the fore. More beasts at the door! New meat
that wants to devour us!
But even as the new beasts leap, the old beasts still linger, news cycle
or not. That whole anthrax thing, for example. Did we ever catch the guy
or guys responsible for that? I forget. And Osama Bin Laden. Weren't we
at war with him or something? Oh right. This week it's Saddam Hussein.
An old beast, made new again with our shouting.
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JWR contributor Ian Shoales is the author of, among others, Not Wet Yet: An Anthology of Commentary. Comment by clicking here.
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© 2001, Ian Shoales