I always find it slightly entertaining to read wikipedia articles for concepts that seem obvious and straightforward. Not the whole thing, just the summaries.
I thought I’d better get my definitions straight before I started, see.
Anyway, it appears that news has to be mediated. It’s when someone (person or institution) tells you something about something else. I guess it’s still news when it’s about the person telling the news, as long as they’re referring to a previous them. The earlier incarnation of that person that the news happened to.
I’ve always found the word news a strange one. The idea that new things, when there’s a few of them, become news. Multiple, plural newness. What’s new? The news.
There’s also a weirdness in that news is reportage on current affairs. But it’s the past, not the current, that gets reported. It’s the nature of the beast. Even the liveblog scene, runs behind the reality.
This is mediation after all. This isn’t events, this is news. The delayed reinterpretation of the things that actually happened. The corruption of reality.
So right. How do you get to a no news day (which would, allegedly, be a good news day)?
I guess one of two requirements would need to be fulfilled.
Either nothing would happen, or nobody would talk about what did happen.
So that makes things difficult. (Or, in fact, incredibly easy, the answer is ‘not since beasts learnt to grunt at one another, and possibly before then’).
I don’t think you can stop the news.
And you certainly can’t stop the news media. In terms of amount of news being reported, the rate of news experienced, available and accessible is increasing constantly.
I would suspect a geometric increase. Though it’s very hard to measure the rate of transference of old fashioned fence to fence gossip, one assumes it was a fair bit slower than the whims of the blogosphere.
It’s a natural instinct, and a defensive measure, to talk about what’s going on. The psuedo-mythological prairie human will have needed to pass on news of current dangers. ‘Mammoth – over there’ read the scaremongering tabloids of the day, no doubt.
That this has been consumed by entertainment is just another indicator of our consumptive society. Now we want news drip fed to us. Thoughts of bias have given way to arguments about how well presented their digital graphs are. It doesn’t matter whose right, only who is first.
Obviously, this is the fault of the listener as much as the broadcaster. The relationship is symbiotic.
Perhaps we should all just lean out our windows and yell, fervently, ‘I’m mad as hell, and I don’t want to take it any more.‘
There’s a final irony though, in the earliest moments of existence.
There was one moment (well, a brief period of time) when the biggest news of all time occurred. And there was nobody there to report it.
Quite a big bang, and nobody heard it.
It still makes the news.
Illustration by Lucy.