Looking for News? Skip This Week’s Focus on the Debt-Reduction Super Committee

Press Conference

This week’s media frenzy is a super-sized, minute-by-minute coverage of the failure of the Congressional Super Committee to reach an agreement on cutting $1.2 Trillion from the budget deficit. We’re going to see lead stories detailing the up-to-the-second state of failed negotiations. And, every news outlet will have a juicy feature story with someone’s opinion about the disaster that the failure of the Super Committee will trigger or a local color angle.

We’ll see haggard members of Congress coming out of midnight meetings. They’ll be an angry President bemoaning the lack of political cooperation. And, they’ll be heart-wrenching pictures of injured veterans and vulnerable children who’ll express genuine fear over the elimination of their already meager government benefits. America will also learn in great detail the subtleties of the word “sequestration”.

It’s time to invoke the media anti-hyperventilation rule: If you want to know what’s important in the world, skip the first two stories in the news. That’s right, ignore the lead stories the impulse-driven reporting shark-pack thrusts at you.

This week’s breathlessly important top stories on the Super Committee’s failure are poster children for the general rule. Nothing is going to happen if/when the Super Committee’s deadline passes without a plan. Nothing.

The “automatic cuts” are safely scheduled for 2013. We will have a new Congress and may have a new President by then. Whatever is supposed to happen “automatically” will never occur. Never. The new Congress will find some magic way to modify the “automatic cuts” that whoever is President will embrace.

So, this week’s gnashing of teeth, predictions of doom, and self-satisfied gloating by anti-government members of Congress are pure entertainment and substance-free twaddle.

That’s how news reporting works. The highlighted stories are the facilely-analyzed, klieg-light-ready topics ready for their close up. The media groupthink pounces on the issue for a news cycle or two. Emotions are ramped up, showcased, and dumped as the end-of-the-world (or salvation-for-the-world) just doesn’t happen. Reporters dust themselves off and swarm to the next top story.

The real news comes in the third-, fourth-, fifth-tier and beyond stories. Those are the ones that detail behind-the-scenes alliances, strange sightings of supposed enemies talking, new statistics suggesting an incipient disease or medical breakthrough. These articles aren’t written by the famous reporters and they aren’t ready for the on-camera stars. But, they are the stories to read to learn what’s news.

Let’s use the Super Committee failure to good purpose. We know that its failure isn’t important to our lives. So, right now, we all can start skipping the overexposed top two stories in whatever we read or watch. We can safely ignore the hard-news Super Committee update, and we can bypass the accompanying sidebar fleshing out some aspect of the failure.

We’ll skip over the over-hyped leads and delve into some real news. Our time will be better spent, we’ll be better informed, and our blood-pressure will be lower. 

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