I dream of a new slow day | Opinion


CBS Sunday Morning recently aired a story on Mount Airy, North Carolina – the inspiration for Mayberry’s fame “Andy Griffith Show”. Ted Koppel interviewed the townspeople, who reflected on Mount Airy’s 60-year run as an idyllic portrayal of life in America’s slow lane.

During the first edition of Griffith (1960-68), Americans were confronted with the Cold War, racial conflicts, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Vietnam War, demonstrations, riots , assassinations and a growing “generational gap” between hippies and squares.

But we never heard a discouraging word in Mayberry. Every day was a slow news day in Mayberry, except maybe when that scoundrel Ernest T. Bass threw stones through the windows.

Of course, the Griffith show is still on TV every day. But what happened on slow news day? Speaking as a longtime reporter, what I’m about to say might bankrupt me, but I’ll take the chance. I could use some new nits for a few days.

Even in the tumultuous 1960s, revered news anchor Walter Cronkite would put in all of August, and then part, to go sailing. Why? August was like a summer vacation for the news. Congress was on vacation, and the president would typically go away for a few weeks to rest at the Camp David retreat in Maryland, or in his own hometown. Evening television news filled the time with squirrels water skiing.

Compare that serenity with August and September 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic that seemed to be in our rearview mirror has come back with a vengeance in the form of a deadly variant.

Confusion reigned as we debated vaccines for children, booster shots for adults, hospitals with limited staff, a bed shortage and revolutionary cases. A new study would come out on Tuesday, followed by a contradictory study on Wednesday.

This sparked a new wave of battles between school boards over whether students should attend in person or virtually, masked or unmasked.. Oh, for those days when the hottest topic among parents was having to buy polo shirts to keep their kids out of the dress code jail.

The Afghan government collapsed, causing violence and chaos. Our generals still question our actions to this day.

Every employment report confirmed what we already knew: 9 million people were losing their unemployment benefits, but we still couldn’t get a Hardee cookie on Sunday morning because no one wanted to work.

Also in Washington, the term “congressional action” has proved more than ever an oxymoron. Democrats and Republicans couldn’t agree on vaccine mandates, infrastructure funding, or whether a hot dog is a sandwich (of course, right?)

A hurricane named Ida passed through the Gulf states and made its way to the east coast, leaving damage and debris along a 1,500-mile path in nine states that left millions of people behind without electricity. For days, many more had to contend with the floods.

Also in September, some Californian citizens attempted (and failed) to recall their governor, while New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was forced to step down due to an avalanche of allegations of sexual harassment.

Texas passed new election laws and a controversial abortion ban, and gun violence claimed shocking lives in cities from Chicago to Chattanooga.

On top of all that, even our game show hideaway was in shambles. The studio that produces “Jeopardy” took nine months to name a replacement for the late Alex Trebek, and groped the ball in spectacular fashion. Our nation cannot even run a board game without spilling pieces of it in a trash can.

It’s gotten to the point where I’m scared to turn on “The Today Show” at 7am every day. What new crisis are Savannah and Hoda going to throw at us this time around? We haven’t cleaned up the others yet!

I think back to hundreds, if not thousands of days in my career, when I was proclaiming loud and clear to my editorial colleagues: “Is this all we have today?” Are you telling me that there is nothing more interesting than this? They often replied, “We feel the same. We’ve looked everywhere for news, but not much is happening, locally or nationally. “

Honestly, there would be days when we would walk away from our morning planning session, where reporters are given assignments, saying, “Something is sure to happen that is better than what we have on our plate. this moment. “

Some days things happened, but most of the time they didn’t.

Of course, we did not want tragedy or loss of life. Just something interesting. Maybe the governor would rush into town and announce the arrival of a new manufacturer, with the promise of a thousand jobs.

The days of slow news are a nightmare for journalists. But compared to what we’ve had lately, I’ll take a few.

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