Gather around the children, and let’s discuss.
Once upon a time, American Broadcast Television was relevant, kiddies! Bet you didn’t know that. And once upon a time, they saw it as part of their charter to have something that they called a News Division. They reported the news stories of the day, and on Sundays the News Division of the major broadcast networks had something called Public Affairs programming.
And on these Public Affair programs they would invite interesting people who would talk, in depth about problems and solutions.
The funniest part? They were proud of these shows. They were so proud of these shows that they spent a lot of money on them, and they did not demand that the News Division made a profit. The rest of the network could cover the expense of reporting something called “news,” which was very expensive to report. Networks needed to have “reporters” and “bureaus” all over the world so that they could “scoop” the other networks by having a “journalist” there first. They would send out a “news crew” to the scene and a journalist would “interview” the principle people who had seen something or done something “newsworthy.”
And it was interesting, because these News programs helped us understand the world around us, and they would show us interesting and exciting people, places, and things. Sometimes what you learned, you didn’t like, and sometimes you felt upset by what you saw, but you always felt slightly better for taking the time to be a better citizen, more informed about the world around you.
And today our “public affairs” programs are people reciting talking points at each other. They are called “Pundits.” Pundits tell us about something called “conventional wisdom” that everyone already “knows.” They all are in Washington D.C. and sometimes New York City, and sometimes they travel from Washington to New York and vise-versa.
Now days, after watching Public Affairs programs, instead of feeling more informed about the world around you, you just feel dirty and empty, and you have the idea in the back of your mind that had you spent that hour reading a book or maybe taking a walk in a park, you would know more about the world around you.