Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas changes everything

The Christmas holiday season - for JC followers and non-JC followers alike - can be counted on to provide an atmosphere of piped-in upbeat music, crowded stores filled with plastic sock-sized trinkets, decadent character-shaped chocolate and mint candy and enough red and green bunting to drown a warehouse full of elves.

I normally revel in all of this - I hum to the tunes, smile at the worn-out sales clerks and eat more than my share of holiday-themed treats. But this morning, when my regular NPR news coverage was disrupted for a segment that could be called "What are sugar plums?" in which experts spoke on the fruity specialty mentioned in holiday poem "Twas the night before Christmas" it gave me pause. It wasn't newsy, it wasn't particularly unique, it was just done in the "spirit of Christmas."

Some things - Rockefeller Center can-cans, neighborhood caroling, family feasts, food bank donations - are appropriately done in the Christmas spirit. News coverage is not on this list. Loosening content standards because people expect only light, off-beat news at holiday times belittles readers/listeners and reporters alike.

The icing on the fruitcake for me was CNN's approach to the Somalian pirates situation. In a peice published Christmas Eve, the outlet expands on a 'Holidays with Pirates' theme. People are suffering in the cold waters at gunpoint and the holiday themed approach to the story sounds more like a direct-to-DVD children's action film. Shame on CNN for attempting a light-hearted spin on real news - leave this approach to comedians and let the reader choose whether they can handle real news over the holiday.

No comments: