THE NEWS VACUUM

March 21st, 2006

As somebody who has spent a long time in the news business, I tend to follow breaking stories pretty closely. I read the papers, watch at least two news broadcasts, surf news sites on the web and listen to NPR intermittantly throughout the day.
So it was a cold-turkey news withdrawal when I boarded a sailboat in St. Lucia and set sail through the Grenadines for Grenada. For eight days, we were totally divorced from the news. We read nothing, heard nothing, saw nothing. The only news we picked up from the locals on the islands was the latest price of lobster (dear,) and the fact that Cuba was doing well in the World Baseball Classic.
But when we emerged from this news vacuum and caught up, I was frankly surprised to see how little had changed on the front pages. Iraq was still a mess, Bush and Cheney were still insisting that the war was going well, Republicans were still unhappy with Bush and the Democrats were still in search of a message.
The whole experience made me wonder how much of the news business is actually new. It reminded me that news is incremental, like life, I suppose. You can look the other way for a while, and not all that much has changed when you look back. That is either comforting or frustrating, depending on your point of view and metabolism.


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