Monday, November 17, 2008

TMI (Yet Still: TLI) in the News

As a young kid, I wanted to be just like my dad: a welder in the Air Force (the realities of the profession changed that desire). As I got older, I dreamed of one day becoming an astronaut or a fighter pilot (but I need glasses). Throughout high school and college I had several other aspirations, all similar: military-intelligence-related. None of which ended up happening.

I've "worked" for the same church since I got out of college, doing different things "on the side." I started by doing small business consulting. Have helped various businees with their incorporation, basic business set-up, implementing records management protocols, automating office work, employee searches, business reorganization, training, and retraining employees. I also still enjoy doing the kind of work that paid for my college education: construction, maintenance, and remodeling. Have done all types of work on houses, apartments, condos, businesses, & churches (from roof, to attic, to ceilings, down to walls, floors, foundations, and everything in between). If I have a preference in my employment, I enjoy doing computer consulting the most. Have built & repaired computers, done systems analysis, network analysis, website analysis, web design, logo design, built & managed websites, as well as trained employees to use applications software (some new software, but usually train them to use the software they already have more efficiently). When other work was slow, I've done other, totally-unrelated work: sold jewelry, driven & delivered vehicles, worked security, even transported hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of cash, documents, and jewelry (locally and domestically; never did international transport). I might someday be able to work for someone else, but I've been self-employed for so long that I enjoy my freedom and the variety of things I'm able to do.

From the list above, you can probably guess I have a lot of different interests. I'm also constantly reading. I prefer to get my news from the internet than from the nightly newscasts for several reasons: I only see the stories of interest to me, if I decide I'm not interested, I move to the next, and because I'm reading rather than listening to a news anchor, I can get through the information faster. The problem with reading the news is so many headlines pique my curiosity. Anything that refers to my interests (current or past), people I know, places I've lived, places my friends live, things I've done, and anything I've ever wanted to do -- all of those articles grab my attention.

One of this morning's articles is a great example: Astronauts prepare to unpack Endeavour's cargo. The headline alone was a show-stopper for me. After I clicked the link I was a bit under-whelmed. I don't think the first sentence was meant to be funny, but I couldn't help laugh at it anyway. "Astronauts aboard the international space station and the newly arrived shuttle Endeavour planned Monday to start unpacking a new toilet and a contraption that purifies urine and sweat into drinkable water at the orbiting outpost." (Note to self: be glad you did not become an astronaut.)

Some of the rest of the article was interesting, but it highlighted a discouraging trend I've noticed in online news: since there are no space constraints (as there are in printed newspapers), news editors are no longer requiring journalists to edit articles as well as they have had to in the past. Rather than keeping the inanity in their stories to bare minimum, reporters seem to revel in it.

I read blogs and editorials for fun and opinion; if they ramble, I expect it. However, from a purely "Journalistic" perspective, I prefer comprehensive, concise detail in my news stories. I'll admit, this particular article was not as bad as many I've read, but Mike Schneider (the Associated Press Writer that filed this Houston-based story) could have written the same article in half the space and kept my attention more closely.

Having TLI (Too-Little-Information) of importance, and TMI (Too-Much-Information) that's frivolous seems to reflect my disappointment with the entire Presidential election-season that just ended. (Also, in the future, I hope they don't last two years; two years of fluff in the news was frustrating.)

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