Hello. My name is Hebe and I’m a news addict.
I like to know what’s going on in the world. I like the immediacy of internet news sites and the intimacy of a printed newspaper. I like reading court reports, film reviews, gardening columns and obituaries. I like following the Guardian and Telegraph’s live minute-by-minute football reports; where else can you learn that “If Blackburn lose today, it will be the first time they’ve lost their first four games. Ever! They did it once during World War One, but that doesn’t officially count”.
My new favourite Sunday newspaper, the New York Times, is a combination of the best bits of the Observer and the Sunday Telegraph, plus it has a brilliant weddings section that describes how the happy couples met and whether the bride is keeping her name and frankly, the mocking opportunities are endless. When I first moved here I persevered with the Washington Post – supporting my local paper and all that – but admitted defeat after waking up a few times with my head on the dining room table and a newsprint tattoo on my face.
I’m a serial flicker of television news channels. Here I can watch a myriad of national news networks such as Fox News (similar to Southpark but not a cartoon or funny), MSNBC, ABC, NBC and CNN, or local news channels such as WGN, WTTG and – my personal favourite – WTF, a station devoted to slipping the word ‘fucknuts’ into every report. The news seems more exciting now that I have a giant American 52-inch telly. I actually had to move the sofa back a few feet as my retinas were in danger of being burned inside out.
Most of all, I like reading the columns, blogs and tweets of political journalists and commentators in the UK. I know more political intrigue in Whitehall than I did when I worked there.
But even my enquiring mind has its limits. Can I have a ‘why-oh-why’ moment? Thanks. Why-oh-why does Sky News report every event as ‘breaking news’ when clearly everyone in the universe apart from the Sky News production team knows it happened five hours ago. Surely the majority of news items merit just a brief mention, rather than the full-on OH MY GOD LOOK WHAT JUST HAPPENED treatment? Sky News are by no means the only offenders. During the recent earthquake, CNN were guilty of broadcasting a news ticker headline that read ‘Breaking News – Water Pipe Bursts At Pentagon – Breaking News‘.
Ah, the news ticker. A wonderful invention. A factual, stunted tweet, the news ticker is often unintentionally funny. A recent favourite on the Guardian website read ‘Israel and Egypt to mend fences’. Yes, and Palestine is going to paint the shed. Years ago I was in a cafe in Argentina when the news broke that former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had suffered a stroke. The news ticker on the television read ‘Breaking News – Sharon Stroke – Breaking News’. A gay bloke I was with screamed ”Oh my god! Sharon Stone! Is she ok??’.
During the recent phone hacking scandal, hysteria in news organisations shot to levels even higher than the last scandal in which hysteria shot to really high levels. (Interestingly, the word ‘hysteria’ comes from the ancient Greek word for uterus; basically Hippocrates blamed excessive emotion on a ‘wandering and discontented uterus’. Yeah, cheers for that, Hippo. Women all over the world thank you.)
Back to phone hacking. Broadcasters were literally coming live on air. There was news-spunk flying everywhere. I half expected my computer screen to be ferociously splattered by blobs of sticky white liquid, as crotches in hundreds of newsrooms just couldn’t hold on any longer and exploded all over the internet. It was virtual seagulling.
And I lapped it up like a dog with its head in the toilet bowl. Luckily my current job allows me time to surf the web (and by the way, why the word ‘surf’? could anything be any less athletic?) and my American colleagues graciously respected my loyal interest in the Mother of all Parliaments, when actually I was re-playing again and again the footage of Ninja-Wendi Murdoch having her Tammy Wynette moment.
I leave you with one of my favourite headlines from the Daily Telegraph: ‘Police told to stop milking drivers‘. You can’t argue with that.