Thursday, January 16, 2014

Food poisoning in Hamamatsu... and watching the news

We watch the news almost every night and Wednesday night as we watched, my wife said, "They found norovirus at those schools."

"Is that Hamamatsu?" I asked.

She said it was, and the news rolled on to the next story.  Which may have been a lengthy piece on the fishing boat and the naval ship that collided, killing two fishermen.  I was trying to read or eat dinner or some little everyday task as people often do in the early evening with the news on TV in the background. 

But I was impressed with how detailed the coverage was.  In the US, even the local news would probably spend less than a minute on the whole thing.  It would probably be little more than a basic blurb with some video taken at the scene and maybe an eye-witness quote and back to the station for a commercial or the next segment.  Did we need to know as much about the fishing boat accident as they told us?  Well, if you're interested in the story, absolutely.  If not, you can eat your meal or read your book until something you are interested in comes on.

Our local news in Albany, Georgia, is nothing more than a vehicle for ad space sales, and it shows with the way the stories are chopped up and doled out in tiny pieces wrapped with commercials or teased repeatedly, then placed strategically throughout a heavily-padded hour and a half broadcast in which you learn very little.  It's great if you're an ad rep trying to meet your monthly budget and avoid getting fired, and wonderful for the station's bottom-line, but it's an excruciatingly shallow news experience.  News for yahoos, very little real reporting of any kind.

A couple of weeks ago, on a morning news show, a reporter demonstrated how that Russian ship in Antarctica became ice-bound and trapped over Christmas.  She used a tilted board with a magnetized model boat and white blocks representing ice floes.  Sure, they could have broken out the computer graphics and modeled it that way, but I prefer practical effects wherever possible in both my movies and my newscasts.  So I really appreciated their low-tech, hands-on approach.  I respect their decision to devote a considerable chunk of time to this demonstration, too.

Think of how many south Georgia car dealers could have used that time to scream at you about LOW LOW LOW ZERO PERCENT FINANCIN'!

Well, people more fluent in Japanese may have their own complaints about news tendencies here, but I'm from a place that's almost completely illiterate and lacking in critical thought, so I'm enjoying looking at these long segments.

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