Reasons to Pay Attention to News

I have plenty of friends who pay no attention to the news. They seem happy. And no wonder. Maybe being uninformed is the right way to go. I met about a dozen of them outside Trader Joe’s on Election Night, intent on getting some wine and not understanding why the store was closed until 6.

Following the news can be pretty depressing, of course. There’s nothing positive about what happened last night on Penn State’s campus. It offers a lesson to the world about what types of behavior are no longer accepted under any circumstances in this country. The story has gone way beyond sports media, even prompting some thoughtful discussion here on this site.

When I strike up conversations with people in public about the news, it amazes me when I get a blank stare, for instance, when I talk about how disgusting it is that a gun-toting constable shot a shoplifter with a long history of criminal behavior at a Wal-mart parking lot. From watching the news, I know that Metro Council members Kelly Downard and David James are making an effort to reign in David Whitlock, who I believe is a danger to society.

Watching the news helps me realize that there’s always somebody doing something really stupid, usually while drunk.  A woman was driving with a blood-alcohol level of .32. That’s almost dead. Amy Tomes caused a multivehicle crash in 2010 driving the wrong way on I-65, and her attorney had the nerve to ask a judge to grant her probation.  Didn’t happen. It’s a little easier to laugh at the antics of U of L student Becca Voss. She got pulled over and, while blowing a .207 at 3 a.m. on campus, dropped a cigarette and set her car on fire. That’s funny.

There’s always a good sex story or two in the news, especially during sweeps. Did you hear about the 35-year-0ld woman who had sex with her daughter’s 14-year-0ld boyfriend? No, it’s not an episode of a porn series, but a legit news story.

A lot of stuff on the news is hilarious, like the Republican Presidential candidates. In a debate last night, Rick Perry said he was going to list three things, but only got two out before he forgot the 3rd. I saw clips of a speech he made recently in which he appeared drunk, to the delight of comedy writers at The Daily Show. And then there’s Herman Cain and the accusations that he somehow pushed a woman’s head to his crotch while putting his hand up her skirt. This from a woman who remembers the exact details of this brief encounter some 15 years ago. And both these guys are still legitimate contenders for the nomination.

The news makes me angry, too. Tonight WLKY’s Duane Pohlman is doing a sweeps piece on how many JCPS administrators are bringing home six-figure salaries. The spending of tax dollars is always worthy of scrutiny by the media. Even though it doesn’t get the kind of attention of, say, the Paterno story, I want to pay attention to the C-J’s coverage of the hospital merger story, because it’s important to a lot of people here.

Yes, it bothers me what people choose to pay attention to. Even here on this site, there’s more traffic for stories about the private lives of media personalities than for important policy-making by Metro Council.

The good news is that it’s really convenient to pay attention to what’s going on, thanks mostly to the Internet. There are more choices than ever.  You can consume news from a million different outlets. Or you can ignore it, and be left in the dark about why a liquor store is closed til 6 on a Tuesday.