Editor’s Column: News, or melodrama?

Between the fires in the western half of the U.S. that have clogged the atmosphere with smoke, the hurricanes

Niki Turner
flooding the southern states, and word that North Korea has amped up its nuclear weapons tests and has America in a bullseye, it’s starting to feel like a particularly sketchy season of “American Horror Story.”
I made the foolish decision of checking my phone when I woke up on Sunday.
Note to self: Do not check phone first thing in the morning.
The news was dire and dramatic, but then the news is always dire and dramatic. That tends to be the flavor of news; even more now with so much competition for clicks and likes and shares and attention.
Mass media makes its bread and butter off melodrama. It doesn’t matter if you’re watching Fox or CNN, the more melodrama, the more interest (revenue) they can generate.
When I was in junior high and high school our drama program produced annual melodramas. Melodrama is defined as “a sensational dramatic piece with exaggerated characters and exciting events intended to appeal to the emotions.”
Sound familiar?
There’s no question there are dramatic, disturbing events taking place in our nation and world right now, and there’s no doubt everyone who can profit from getting a lot of attention is playing it up as much as possible, from media outlets to politicians looking for more campaign contributions.
Here’s a thought to consider: If what you read, see and hear inspires random acts of kindness and giving and service, that’s accomplishing something beneficial. If what you read, see and hear triggers panic and terror and hatred, that’s not accomplishing anything good for anyone.
We’re likely to face a lot of scary news reports in the days to come, for all kinds of reasons. In my opinion, the question we each need to ask ourselves is this: How will we respond? We could hole up in our houses, shaking in our shoes, because of what might happen in the days to come, or we can step up and be the people our friends and neighbors need.
We can’t stop living and loving because the world might come to an end tomorrow or next week. Instead, we need to make it our intention to make every day count for something good.

I was feeling a bit discouraged last week because I felt like we hadn’t satisfied a reader with our coverage of an event. I came in to the office Sunday to work on Days Gone By and stumbled across a couple items written by previous editors that made me feel better. (See PAGE 12A.)
As I’ve said before in this space, advertising dollars equate to the number of pages we can print every week. In a perfect world, the ad dollars from a particular community would equate to an equal amount of editorial coverage (stories and photos).
I’ll repeat the words of that wise Meeker Herald editor 50 years ago: “All we can say is we try to do our best.”