My husband was a newsman for his whole career, more than forty years. Through him I learned that a busy news day is generally a good thing if news is your business, though the news is rarely good for anything but higher ratings.
Now I find myself in a sort of newsy business and I realize the true meaning of a “slow news day.” I’m beginning to recognize that there is such a thing as a slow news week, maybe month. Not that nothing is going on. It’s just that nothing is going on that anyone is going to find particularly interesting or entertaining.
I don’t cover, as Garry did, breaking news stories, but I like writing about current issues and events. Big events that impact everyone include me. The presidential election — such a vicious, contentious, nasty election — with so much at stake during my first few months of blogging let me grab a piece of the momentum of events. I had the opportunity to weigh in on “hot topics” that put me on the blogging map faster than I really deserved. It was interesting and there was so much to write about. Controversy and big news improves readership.
And then … one day …
The election was over. It took a few weeks for the winners to stop gloating and the losers to stop pouting, but most of them seem to have gotten the message and have gone off to lick their wounds or celebrate in private. So newswise, it got really quiet in a big hurry. The weather is back to being the biggest part of the news … and of course, football. A bit of snow … ooh …. pictures to take, something to talk about. Trades in the baseball off-season … can the Sox pull themselves out of the septic tank into which they fell by the end of last season?
We had barely finished counting the votes before Thanksgiving was upon us. Now the rest of the holiday season is bearing down on us like a freight train with failing brakes. instead of solving the problems of the world, we are back to dealing with family politics, wrapping paper and sticky tape, celebrations and money, guest lists and travel plans. Instead of frothing at the mouth over national politics, we are banging our heads against our empty bank accounts.
The national economic calamity we were told to expect, that dreaded “fiscal cliff” vanished as a paralyzing wave of commonsense swept over congress. Our democratic process did it again: the people spoke, the defeated far right GOP agenda having been soundly rejected by the electorate created a wondrous atmosphere of coöperation and compromise. Barely a week ago our nation was about to fall off the mountaintop. Not only the U.S. economy, but the economy of the entire world was going to be swept away and we would be reduced to a stone age barter economy, trading beads for chickens. Yet now, oddly enough, the cliff is not a cliff; disaster is not looming.
Go home Chicken Little. The sky is not, after all, falling.
So there’s no news. No fresh disasters or huge controversies. A few sleazy scandals, but nothing anyone will remember a week from now. The donut hole in my Medicare prescription coverage is much the same as last year; I still don’t know how I’m going to both eat and get my meds, but I’m not surprised. I’ve still got a mortgage that exceeds the value of the house and as I have done for years past and I guess will do forever, wonder how we are can survive on a fixed income while prices keep rising.
Ho hum. Same old, same old. I have no idea how we are going to manage but we will, somehow. Or not. Besides, 2012 has a month remaining. Maybe the Mayans were right and I don’t have anything to worry about because we aren’t going to be around to greet the New Year. Is the end of days New Year’s Eve?
No news. Just the everyday struggles of a tired population hoping things will get better and wondering what will become of us.
In a strange way it made my entry into blogging easier because we were in the middle of a violent acrimonious political upheaval, massive destructive storms, and all that distracting, fascinating stuff. It was such momentous, monstrous news that everyone got to forget for a while that for most of us, nothing changed.
We have the same problems we had before. We were unemployed before, we are still unemployed. Our health was poor and hasn’t improved. Our bills are bigger than our budgets and no one is giving us any money to pay them. And it’s Christmas, time to figure out how to make it festive but somehow cost-free.
A new year is going to start, Mayans aside. And we are back to the very unthrilling business of, to quote Tom Lehrer, “sliding down that razor blade of life.”