I admit it. I'm addicted to news. I listen to NPR in my office and car. I listen to CNN at home. It’s the background noise of my life.
I get antsy when I don't have access to either. I feel disconnected, unplugged from the world. Camping trips are really hard. What if a war breaks out? What if there's a mad cow loose somewhere? What if a politician flubs a speech? Or a dictator resigns? Or a Vice President shoots something besides birds? I need to know—immediately.
But I'm picky. Not just any news show will do. I need my CNN and NPR fixes. Fox won't do. Neither will MSNBC. Give me Diane Rehms treating every guest with respect and allowing them the time to answer her questions. Or Anderson Cooper, hip deep in the New Orleans floodwaters or standing outside the Sago Mine, giving us his view on the latest disaster. For something lighter, give me All Things Considered, In This I Believe, and The Car Talk Guys.
I think my obsession with CNN started about the time of the first Gulf War. I was fascinated by the minute-to-minute coverage that CNN was providing. Remember the CNN reporters broadcasting from their room while the bombs were dropping? Talk about reality tv – that was incredible. During the second Gulf War, I traveled through the desert with the embedded reporters. Sometimes I left the television on while I fell asleep, the sounds of real war playing in my ears – all with a five second satellite delay.
I know exactly when my NPR addiction started. The O.J. Simpson trial. I was doing a lot of driving for my day job during that year. I ended up hearing most of the trial through my car radio thanks to NPR. Kato Kalin? Judge Ito? Marsha Clark? I learned so much about creating bigger-than-life characters from that trial. And the murders of Nicole and Ron? I cried with Ron Goldman's father. I felt Nicole's sister's anger. I listened to the testimony like I was a juror. It began as a real who-dun-it and by the end? By the end the mystery was how the justice system ever manages to work.
At night when I write, I like to have the television on. Maybe it's a hold-over from my school days when I did my homework in front of the set. But these days it's not returns of Gilligan's Island or the Love Boat that keeps me company. It's news. I need it. I crave it.
BlueRay is in. Hillary is in trouble. An explosion in Texas may increase gasoline prices by ten cents a gallon. Bush is in Africa – I hope he doesn't do any more dancing. And hey, did you know that a beagle was the top dog at the Westminster dog show? Should have been a wolfhound.
These things are important, people!