Jewish World Review Jan. 21, 2003 / 18 Shevat, 5763

Ian Shoales

Ian Shoales
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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 consumed safely.

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 three.

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.


01/16/03: "G" for verbal violence?
01/03/03: Farewell to novelty
12/23/02: Neo-frontiers
12/18/02: A nation of hypochondriacs?
12/11/02: Cursed
11/08/02: Good news for skateboarders looking to keep up with world events
11/01/02: "Extreme" annoyance
10/24/02: Snipers are people, too!
10/16/02: Hockey Therapy
10/08/02: Cupid, the parasite
10/03/02: How to have fun in Africa
09/30/02: If you are employed, you're part of the problem
09/25/02: "Up and comers," go away!
09/18/02: Collectibilitized
09/10/02: Monotone felons
08/20/02: Will we soon need a passport to get caviar, duc a la orange, or Polish sausage?
08/14/02: Law and Disorder --- and Starbucks
08/12/02: Rummy's monkey
08/05/02: Time for some real cultural heroes
07/31/02: Yearning for a nostalgic American product that was neither
07/24/02: Voicemail heaven?
07/18/02: At the movies with your friendly neighborhood curmudgeon
07/12/02: King of Kitsch
07/09/02: Musicians' brains
07/01/02: Where's my cow?
06/24/02: Modern record stores can be a scary proposition
06/21/02: Life IS a movie?
06/19/02: Spreading fertilizer on a dictionary to try to raise a novel
06/17/02: Happy cows are really miserable?
06/12/02: Very similar to a rock
06/05/02: Of Humice and Men
05/30/02: Pooches in sharkskin suits and the end of dog tags
05/22/02: We baby boomers used to rule the roost
05/20/02: The Files now Ex
05/14/02: Entangled in Spider-Man's web!?
05/02/02: April Showers May Come Our Yadda Yadda
04/24/02: From child murderer to milk hawker
04/10/02: New realities
03/21/02: You did it your way? I have to kill you now!
03/12/02: Life in the warehouse
01/28/02: Shoes and food
01/24/02: Suspension of disbelief has nothing to do with whether we accept something as real or not
01/22/02: Save the Grand Ole Opry?
12/15/01: If you truly want to appeal to the lowest common denominator
12/11/01: KNITTING!
12/07/01: Conspiracy by the 'fat suit' lobby?
12/04/01: The future of comic books
11/15/01: Literary tips in a jar
11/12/01: The ectoplasm of a ghost economy
11/05/01: Sumner Redstone's passions
10/31/01: My irony
10/29/01: Even in wartime, America can still bring it home
10/25/01: Ad memories
10/17/01: Pathetic me
10/08/01: War time lite
10/01/01: Confessions of a sarcastic scribe
09/11/01: The end of Mom
09/07/01: Boy Loses Girl, Boy Bites Girl, Boy Gets Girl
09/05/01: Virtual elegance?
08/28/01: Buzz!
08/23/01: Radio workout
08/20/01: I robot, you Jane
08/15/01: A wild and crazy world!
08/10/01: When the future was "as real as a dime"
08/08/01: Garage Dearth!
08/06/01: That Big Clock
08/02/01: Stop the pop!
07/31/01: Catchphrase history of the world
07/26/01: The Bride of Science
07/23/01: That java jive
07/17/01: Homogenized hegemony
07/13/01: Applying Newton's First Law of Physics to textbooks
07/10/01: The dumb and the dead

© 2001, Ian Shoales