Tuesday, June 27, 2006

“Now…This”:Daily News and the Death of Wisdom


Why is Dan Rather not considered one of the wisest men in America?

Perhaps I should substitute “intelligent” or “knowledgeable” for “wisest”, though I suspect the reaction would be the same. The question appears random, even absurd. But consider: Last week Rather announced he was leaving CBS News, ending a 56 year career as a reporter and broadcaster. His career spanned from the assassination of JFK to the Iraq conflict. He covered eight U.S. presidents and hundreds of global leaders. He witnessed hundreds of conflicts, from Cold War battles abroad to Civil Rights struggles a home. A conservative estimate would be that he spent roughly 75,000 hours reporting, researching, or reading about current events.

So if that level of intimacy with the news does not make Rather notably more wise, intelligent, or knowledgeable, then what exactly is the benefit? And what do we expect to gain by spending an hour or two a day keeping up with the latest headlines?

Tell people that you rarely read blogs, listen to talk radio, or watch reality TV and they will make no general assumptions about your lack of intellect. Tell people you never watch TV news (“I prefer reruns of Seinfeld.”), rarely listen to radio news broadcasts (“I’m usually listening to an audiobooks instead…”), and only read newspapers on Sundays (“…mainly for the comics and book reviews…”) and the reaction will be quite different. They will automatically peg you as a person who is ill-informed, out-of-touch, and possibly even anti-intellectual. The same people who would dismiss the notion that Dan Rather is an cosmopolitan intellect, will automatically assume that their forms of entertainment make them wiser, smarter, or at least “better informed” than you...Read More.

No comments: