In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review May 9, 2007 / 21 Iyar, 5767

The Really Big Story (Maybe)

By Pat Sajak

Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | One of the legacies of the O.J. Simpson saga was the discovery that a TV news division could garner huge ratings with blanket coverage of a Really Big Story, or RBS. ("Really Big Story" being a journalistic term meaning a story deemed capable of garnering huge ratings with blanket coverage). The RBS lesson has been adopted with a vengeance by the 24-hour cable news networks, and it continues to be an effective ratings tool.

However, the problem with relying on an RBS for elevated ratings is, what happens when there's no story deserving of that status? The answer is simple: you just decree that something is an RBS, and you cover it with ferocity until the next RBS comes along.

Of course, some stories actually merit extensive coverage, among them the recent horror at Virginia Tech and the 2001 terrorist attacks. When those kinds of legitimate stories happen, they tend to knock the ersatz ones off the radar screen, most likely never to return. When I sat, stunned, with my wife watching the second jetliner slam into the World Trade Center, I remember saying two things to her. First, I said our lives would never be the same, and, second, we would probably never hear the name Gary Condit again. (Condit was the RBS prior to 9/11. Does anyone know the status of that story?)

I thought of this phenomenon when the latest copy of Newsweek arrived in the mail. It was printed too early to be able to feature the Virginia Tech story on the cover. Instead, there was Don Imus, the most recent media-driven RBS, and it felt as dated as if I were picking up a 1942 copy of The Saturday Evening Post. That's the trouble with a fake RBS; there's no shelf life. When it's hot, it's hot; when it's not, it's really not. (Though, in the case of Imus, his hiring by another media outlet could generate another round of 24-hour coverage.)

In a way, the phony RBS is a comfort. It means there's nothing terrible enough happening in the world to interrupt the saturation coverage of the missing girl in the Caribbean or the DNA tests on the offspring of dead celebrities. The downside, though, is much worse. Elevating a relatively minor story to RBS status removes all perspective and diminishes the import of stories that really deserve to be examined at length. It reduces news coverage to nothing more than an ongoing reality show; a circus where the center ring must always be filled, even if the acts are unworthy of the showcase.

It forces otherwise capable journalists to try to sell us on the validity of their coverage, even though they have to know better. It has allowed networks to superimpose the words "Breaking News" over a story that is not breaking, or perhaps not even news. It's a charade played by those who present the news and those of us who watch it. That's why it was excruciatingly jarring to CNN's Wolf Blitzer as he recently stood, looking somber, in his "Situation Room", only to have fellow anchor Jack Cafferty ask, "Well, Wolf, is Anna Nicole still dead?" For a moment, at least, the jig was up.

There will be another Really Big Story soon. For the sake of our world, let's hope it's the manufactured type. For the sake of journalism, let's hope it's not.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Comment on Pat Sajak's column by clicking here.

JWR contributor Pat Sajak is the recipient of three Emmys, a Peoplesí Choice Award and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He's currently the host of Wheel of Fortune.


© 2007, Pat Sajak