The news seems to always play off of one’s fear. If the headline of a news’ story indicates something that might cause me some reason to fret, why would I not read it to find out the solution or warnings? Broadcast journalism has an even bigger advantage since they can use our sense of sight and sound to invoke a reaction and keep us interested. Does news seem to harp on our insecurities a little too much in order to keep high ratings?

The Nightly News with Brian Williams brought up an issue that is prevalent in many girls’ minds as we head toward the beautiful season of summer: tanning. Skin cancer has evidently been increasing dramatically throughout the years by what they think may be the result of tanning beds and improper use of suntan lotion. Once that headline was stated, I’m sure most of the women watching the news immediately tuned in. For years people have been telling teenagers that tanning is a horrible thing to do to your body, which I’m sure is true and the statistics should be heard, however is the way they are presenting the information just causing irrational fear?

They tell the horror stories of women who went to tanning beds everyday and got melanoma and while this is important to hear, the story should be informative not simply keeping us at the edge of our seats so that we continue watching the news broadcast. That story was one of the longest stories broadcasted that night. They continually made it sound worse and worse until the end came and then it made me never want to go out in a bathing suit ever again. Instead of simply saying something is dangerous, encourage proper use of sunscreen and not make every woman in America feel like they need to go inspect every spot on their body.

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Is it not ironic how the moments where it seems forbidden to laugh is when you’re holding back uncontrollable laughter by covering your mouth feeling like you’re about to burst? For example, while a speaker is making a speech in a lecture hall full of people respectively listening, you look to your friend beside you who happened to be making a weird face and both of you proceed to stifle the laughter but unfortunately the sight of one laughing only makes you wanna laugh more! That is the exact feeling I felt while watching tonight’s NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams.

Lead stories such as Super Tuesday, Syria, and advances in a cure for skin cancer were serious and informative giving that traditional broadcast news “feel” to the program. When all of a sudden, the words “Making Room” are presented on the screen. Evidently, some airlines, like Delta, are starting to make overhead bins larger. For whatever reason I found this story odd, because minutes ago they were reporting on bombings and now bigger overhead bins? I sat there confused and found myself wondering what made them choose this news story. Could this story really be the best story they have tonight? Oh, but it got better.

Following the important need for us to be informed of plane’s overhead storage bins, a penguin pops on the screen. I found this penguin rather cute and entertaining, expecting them to talk about PETA or some movement against animals in captivity, but no. This penguin has evidently escaped from its residence in a Japanese zoo. Brian Williams continues to talk about this event and equates it to the filmĀ The Shawshank Redemption. At that point I completely lost it. I have always thought of news as being one serious thing after the other, but this story had me chuckling because they tried to present a penguin escaping from a zoo in a very serious and professional manner which almost felt uncomfortable. Brian Williams says this “fugitive penguin…scaled a rock wall, squeezed through a fence during a daring escape” and then follows that up with a picture of this penguin swimming in the middle of the ocean saying that’s the last anyone has seen of the penguin. After the picture he ends the story by saying, “That is the only lead we have in this case” quickly looks up and proceeds with “…in case you see anything” where I felt like inside he was laughing at the story himself. That was the end of an interesting to say the least news night with Brian Williams.

The top ongoing news story on everyone’s television sets seem to always be this upcoming presidential election, and it was that exact story on NBC’s Nightly News with Brian Williams on February 28, 2012. Politics seem to be either the center of one’s life or the center of one’s jokes. People tend to love them or hate them, understand them or simply wait to blindly give their already predetermined vote because how could they ever consider a liberal democrat when every conservative republican is a gift from heaven? Yes, it’s sadly true how most Americans do not like to dedicate time to following politicians until weeks before the actual election since most of the time they do not understand what the candidates are actually debating about. That seems to be the root of this problem of voters who are uneducated on who they are actually voting for: the issues are too complicated for them to understand. Things like the economy and healthcare plans are issues that most politicians themselves can hardly grasp simply because of their highly complex nature which have to be intensely studied by professionals in order for the issues to be resolved. So, what about the everyday American? I’ve heard it said, “The newspaper is to be written in a way that a thirteen-year-old could understand it”. Should broadcast news not have the same goal? The reality is a lot of voters do not completely understand the candidate they are voting for, because the candidate has not been talked about in a light that is easy enough for them to understand. I even found myself, one who is interested in politics and tries hard to understand and grasp the difficult problems presented in the election, getting lost in the elevated style of words chosen by NBC’s Nightly News. They seemed to have presented the problem well, but got a little “too wordy” in their newscast. The numbers and percentages given could become overwhelming for your average American. We must also not forget about that small percentage of voters, the eighteen-year-old high schooler, who also has a say in who will become the next President of the United States. Do we not want that eighteen-year-old to be an educated voter? Present it in a way for even the young high schoolers and college students to understand. This is not to say it should be diluted down to the level of a kindergartener. There are those who do not understand and don’t care to and that is another issue within itself. Needless to say though, the news, especially politics, is important for everyone to grasp. The news is for everyone, not just the elite.

Have you ever had an irrational fear because of what the news chose to broadcast? When I was a child I became severely terrified of storms because of the continual storm stories I saw on the news. I even quit softball because I was afraid a tornado would come down right on the field. My grandmother also has an overbearing fear of terrorists which has completely distorted the way she looks in life making her afraid of simply riding in an airplane. This is a result of her dedication to watching the nightly news. In no way am I saying the news should not be reporting on what is happening in the world, but to be dwelling on stories that harp on issues that are giving young and old irrational fears might be a little much. Making people aware of the problem and idolizing the problem is a dangerous line to flirt with. On NBC’s Nightly News with Brian Williams, the continual shots of disturbing images and bombings were very prominent. These images are what have brought people like my grandmother to fear life itself. Again, not to say that those images are not important, but to examine in depth the issue that has been made clear might cause people to not just be aware but worry over things the news might exaggerate.

Towards the end of the newscast, a new issue was presented. Anorexia, a disease often associated with females, is becoming increasingly more common in males which many people are unaware of. The issue of male anorexia is one that should absolutely be addressed to the public, but to spend a good six minutes on it could in some cases do more harm than good. First, it gave the reasons for anorexia as predominately having a bad body image because of the way pop culture instills in us the need for a perfectly fit body. As they talked about this idea of bad body images, pictures of chiseled men and rock solid abs flew across the screen displaying exactly what they are trying to avoid: teenagers being exposed to magazines promoting an unrealistic body. The story went on to stress how parents should be taking notice of their kids’ eating habits and even what they wear in order to determine if they might have this horrible disorder. Yes, parents should be conscious of their kids’ health, but the newscast made it sound like any kid wearing baggy clothing or hoodies should be interrogated. Using the example of kids wearing hoodies as a sign of anorexia might not have been the best thing to say since the majority of teenagers in America wear a hoody on a regular basis.

These issues are important and informative making America aware of the problems at hand. However, stating the news and lingering on the news is important for news stations to define. The gullible ears of America do not need to be fed with information allowing them to gain irrational fears or obsessive concerns.

Once again the vivid insight into America’s celebrity infatuation is shown on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams on February 13th. While the death of the respected singer Whitney Houston is a tragic event and should be honored with high esteem, to have two of the news stories solely devoted to her might be slightly much. My fear is that all celebrity deaths will become as much as an event as Michael Jackson’s death was, which continued for weeks. Again, not to say that these inspiring and talented artists should not be given recognition, but what about the millions of children dying from starvation in third world countries. This blog is not to try to make each American feel as though their heart is rotten and filled with nothing but selfish desires without a care in the world about those less fortunate, and yet it’s something to think about. Their is a continual need for help in those countries; so, should there not be a continual reminder on what many American’s watch everyday, the news? It’s not fun to look at famished lands filled with famished people, and yet it is a reality. It’s almost like the news doesn’t want to continually make us feel bad or annoy us with the everyday story of people in need, but could that not be a way to get America out of the comfortable bubble they have placed themselves in? The news will not create change, but it will let us see what is actually happening around the world. It takes becoming uncomfortable for change to occur, and until we become uncomfortable enough with the idea of hurting people the world will stay stagnate. The news tells what happened on that given day. Well, there are kids dying today! I don’t enjoy watching sad things as much as the next person, but the media is one thing I’m constantly surrounded by just like the rest of America. Politics, wars, and education are important and shouldn’t be eradicated from broadcast news, but the tear-jerking stories displaying the swollen bellies of innocent African children shouldn’t be either. News tells the story; we change the world.

This day and age, America is filled with a fascination and inclination to look at those we have given the name “stars” as people whose lives should be and seem to be transparent to us. Who are they dating? Why did they get a divorce? What drug are they addicted to now? We think we have a right to know every aspect of their being and yet, in no way do we have a personal relationship with them. This sick obsession we have created over celebrities and their lives, that are often filled with loneliness and want of privacy, has caused reputations to be ruined. What does it say about our country and its methods of informational news programming to know that more people recognize Britney Spears than the Vice President Joe Biden? The answer is simple: a majority of America finds entertainment through slander and gossip, not educational, relevant news broadcasts. A great example was displayed in NBC’s Nightly News with Brian Williams on February 6. 2012. While giving the rundown of stories that were going to be addressed that night, an interesting breaking news story was mentioned. John F. Kennedy’s alleged adulterous life was being reported, by Mimi Alford who was nineteen when the affair apparently began. Is this really a story that will educate or better the viewing public? A story that is filled with sadly intriguing details that taint the view of a deceased President of the United States is making headline news on a national news broadcast. Less than a century ago, talk of a nineteen-year-old girl willingly losing her virginity would be inappropriate to talk about period much less go into detail on national television.

These are changing times, I have not forgotten that. Moral standards are becoming a thing of the past, but can our news broadcasts not still be respectable? A family passing the newspaper, sitting silently around a radio, or lounging on the coach watching the nightly news used to not be uncommon. Young and old were concerned about their nation and relied on the nightly news to give them concise, factual information on news pertinent to them and their fellow citizens. We should be expecting the same. NBC’s news is not TMZ or E!, but necessary for us to see those around the world in order to create positive change. Having a story about the bombings in Syria, showing graphic images of horrific wounds and hearing piercing cries of a nation in need of refuge be followed by gossip of a President who has been dead for years is, in a way, disrespectful to those innocent in Syria. All I ask is that factual news and celebrity crushes be kept separate. The craze of Americans and celebrities is not about to cease, but the issue lies in what context is it appropriate. The beauty of the origin of news is its unbiased, relative, and informative insight into the world we live in. It gives us a bird’s eye view of horrors beheld within the gory outcomes of wars, and yet sheds light on the hopefulness of good. The blathering buzz of scandals within a past presidency on nightly news simply insinuates the priorities of Americans which must be refocused in order to reach our potential as a nation.