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Things I Hate About TV: Blowing news stories out of proportion

by Joel Keller, posted Dec 18th 2006 1:05PM
Mt HoodThree mountain climbers go up on Mt. Hood. They get in trouble, socked in by a storm. They call for help. There's a search party. One's found dead; the others are still missing.

Don't get me wrong; it's a sad story. I feel for the families of the men trapped on the mountain. But this doesn't feel like news to me.

Since climbing during any time of the year, much less winter, isn't exactly a risk-free activity, I'd imagine that one or two climbers get trapped on the mountain every year. So why has this incident been the top story on all the local and network news broadcasts for the last five days?

Yes, I know the holiday season is normally a pretty slow time for news. But with the war in Iraq, along with stories about the transition of power in Congress, folks like the president of Iran holding a "Holocaust deniers conference," and the constant threat by North Korea, Iran, and other enemies, there are plenty of stories going on here and abroad to fill two nightly newscasts.

So why are the networks so concerned with the fate of these three men? Are they searching for some feel-good story, hoping that they get scenes of them being rescued off the mountain just in time for Christmas? All it seems like they're doing is digging for something that isn't there, torturing three families in the process.

Maybe it's a big deal because it comes immediately after the story about what happened to James Kim after he and his family also got trapped in the Oregon mountains. But Kim and his family accidentally drove down a road that should have been closed, making the situation more newsworthy than what's happened to these three gentlemen, who went up on the mountain knowing that there was a chance that something bad might happen.

Does anyone else agree that this story, while tragic, shouldn't be getting the attention it's getting? Let me know in the comments.

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Jason B

....And yes, this story is being inexplicably broadcasted down here, too.

December 20 2006 at 2:19 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jason B

Its not solely an American phenomenon. The three major network channels in Australia pull the same stunt - smothering us with powderpuff pieces while donning a plastic smile. The rub is that we only have 5 free-to-air stations down here, so we're basically farked. Thank heavens for the Internet...!

December 20 2006 at 2:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
GhaleonQ

Indeed. "Meet The Press" was overtaken by this supposedly breaking news (though it's available later at night, as well). With so much wasteful coverage on television (why cursory Iran, Iraq, China, and North Korea coverage, largely irrelevant Darfur tales, and 3-day "crises" instead of, say, the willful assassination of Russian oligarchs and dissidents by their rulers, Litvinienko notwithstanding?), it's a wonder that anyone bothers with anything but intellectual newspapers, magazines, and journals for in-depth information.

December 19 2006 at 12:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
eppyjerk

Thank you. I've been thinking it for days, but was unable to get the words out in any good order.

December 18 2006 at 9:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jim

The biggest lesson we can learn from these two stories is; if you find yourself in the Oregon mountains in winter, DON'T LEAVE YOUR CAR!

December 18 2006 at 6:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dave

What's even more stupid is that during the press conference they told the media that they were NOT going to speculate and some jerk askes what they speculate about something. Um hello? Freaking pay attention.

Other stupid questions were something like, were the ice caves close to each other, were there foot prints from one to the other, who found the ice cave, who found the body, who shot Mr. Burns, etc...

(just kidding on that last one).

Another funny thing, they played a clip from Lewis Black on Raw Dog (Sirius Satellite Radio) and he was talking about how crazy the coverage for that Shaviago woman was and it was everywhere. That's how I felt about the coverage.

That's why I try not to watch the "news" as much as possible.

December 18 2006 at 5:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Gig

Are there toys under the tree that will kill your kids and make your dogs hair fall out????????

We'll have the story tonight at 11:00

December 18 2006 at 4:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
nosidam

I agree. They have to fill the 24 hour news channels (do we really need three or four or five?) with something.

Men getting trapped on a mountain in bad weather is not big news.

A comedian once said that a shark bitting a man in the ocean is not news. If the shark came out of the water, went to 7-11, and bought a slurpee...that'd be news.

December 18 2006 at 3:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Anna

I live in Oregon-- near the base of Mt. Hood and I'm totally confused about why it's making international news (a friend from London said they're monitoring it there- WTF?). People get lost and die on Mt. Hood EVERY SINGLE YEAR. This is nothing new to us down here in the valley. We just wonder why those yahoos didn't rent beacons for $5.

I agree that it's a slow news day- news directors are bored with the 'toys for tots for christmas' stories that they do every year. I also think that because the James Kim story got so much attention, the networks are assuming that people love stories about people lost in the wilderness. They don't understand the difference: what happened to James Kim and his family could've happened to anyone. That's at least part of the reason why it was so captivating (feeling like I know him is the main reason). I can't relate to these three climbers because I'd never climb Mt. Hood in the winter or summer.

December 18 2006 at 2:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Whoosh

brittany sphears needs to take her underwear off again so they have something else to talk about.

December 18 2006 at 2:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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