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Pat Piper has made a career learning something new. As a journalist in the news business, “something new” occurs every hour so he’s becoming an expert at understanding stuff he never thought about. Learning became a common word in “Future Talk: Conversations About Tomorrow” (Warner Books), the popular book he ghostwrote with Larry King as […]

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Speculation As News

By on March 17, 2014 in See It Here

March 17, 2014

Where Did It Go?

Nobody knows what happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight MH 370. We are in a moment of conversation about the government listening in on phone calls, of security cameras everywhere, numerous thesis on the fact Big Brother from 1984 is living next door (if not with us) and watching news occur live on television and radio.

But we can’t find a Boeing 777 that measures 199 feet wing-to-wing and is almost 242 feet long. The search has become something that is part Stephen King and part Arthur Conan Doyle with some Tom Clancy mixed in.

The result is television (and radio) hosts asking people who used to work for the National Transportation Safety Board, Homeland Security, former NSA experts and, of course, members of Congress who sit on a  committee with the word “terrorism” a single question: “How could this happen with all the surveillance out there/up there/over there?”

NBC’s Kerry Sanders has made the most valid statement after all the hours of “breaking news/updates/new information learned just now blah blah blah” and it is this sentence: “We know that we don’t know much.”

Former CNN anchor Frank Sesno has talked about the pressure on a TV host during moments as this: “There’s a language of live,” he says and that means the host is learning along with the viewer and, in the case of Flight 370, there’s not a lot being learned.

Enter speculation.

Live broadcasting requires always moving the show toward “here’s what’s new” and when “here’s what’s new” isn’t in the room, programs become “here’s what could be going on” which doesn’t teach us anything but opens the door to the viewer taking the role of a reader of one of the books by the authors mentioned above. It’s exciting to wonder where and how and why.

I’d like to see one host start off the show with all the usual graphics and pictures of the network call letters in different color coming out of a computer-generated map of the world and say, “Welcome to the program. We have no clue what happened to the airplane so we’re not going to waste your time with more experts who have no more of a clue than you do and, instead, provide some real news today.”

Yeah, I know.

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