November 4, 2008

Watching Obama on TV just now...

... I realized how rarely I get my news this way. It's irritating -- simultaneously too fast and too slow. I vastly prefer to read the news, and by that I mean read the news on the internet.

For many years, I got the news from the paper New York Times, which I absolutely loved picking up from the front walk every morning and paging through. Even once I started blogging, and had my computer on first thing in the morning, I would get my news by turning the familiar, substantial big pages. But over time, my habits of clicking around and through places on line became so ingrained that it felt like a chore to go through the newspaper the way I'd used to. I no longer had the feeling that the news existed in the order and proportion determined by the paper's editors, and after throwing too many newspapers in the recycling bin unread, I canceled my subscription. I can't see myself ever going back.

But what about TV? Isn't it pleasant to take a break from reading and watch the talking heads? No, I don't find it pleasant at all, as that taste of "Fox and Friends" just now made obvious. Too much inane blabbering, filling the time, maintaining a flow, desperate to keep us from switching channels, not to mention the commercial breaks (with teasers -- wait 'til you hear what.. -- about stories that I've always already read on the internet). If I ever watched the network evening news shows, it was more than 20 years ago. For a while -- during the Clinton Era scandals -- I obsessively watched the cable news analysis shows, and that habit persisted for a while. But it's utterly gone now.

I watch "Meet the Press." That's it. Not "Fox News Sunday," not "60 Minutes," not Bill O'Reilly or Chris Matthews. I watch "The Daily Show," if that counts. And I probably still believe that election returns are something you watch on TV. You need to see those maps changing colors and numbers rolling up and Wolf Blitzer strolling around on a big glitzy set. That's the event, right? Or maybe that will be gone too. I was just reading this guide to watching the returns:
Aim to have the popcorn popped and to be on the couch by 7 p.m. Eastern time. That’s assuming you have a day job and haven’t been glued to the television all day.
Ugh! What a terrible way to live. If you don't have a day job, go out and play... or hang out on the internet.
The networks are not supposed to call a state until all the polls in that state have closed. But there will be lots of raw data online, so you can go on the Web, check the returns and try calling the state yourself.
And, so, why are we watching TV?
The suspense starts in Indiana. Most polls close at 6 p.m. and others at 7....

Also at 7 p.m., polls close in Virginia and Georgia, and polls close in most of Florida and New Hampshire....

At 7:30, polls close in Ohio and North Carolina.
Won't a quick check of the internet at 7 ET and 7:30 answer all our questions pretty well? Or, if we want the graphics -- and I do -- won't 5 minutes of CNN at those 2 times give us everything we want?
At 8, Pennsylvania and Missouri finish voting.
Maybe these states won't be anti-climactic. If not, I'll be staring at the pretty lights and colors on TV like everyone else. Maybe. Or will I be on line, looking for text to blog and interacting with the commenters right here... as I do every day? All the flashiness and noise of TV only seems to disguise how inert the experience of watching it really is.

43 comments:

Bushman of the Kohlrabi said...

Has CNN called the race for Obama yet?

Hoosier Daddy said...

The suspense starts in Indiana. Most polls close at 6 p.m. and others at 7....

Not sure which close at 7. Everyone I know of close at 6.

Waited in line for two and half hours this morning which means I need to burn some vacation time to cover the time I spent from work. I wonder if that counts as a poll tax?

Simon said...

A friend called me the other day to say that it's in the bag - Toby Keith has endorsed McCain! He was totally serious. Love his optimism, but I don't think I can bear to be around people IRL this evening. I think I will get a big tub of cookie dough ice cream, some incense and a bottle of wine, and curl up with a laptop and a cat or two.

Simon said...

Hoosier, I think Lake County closes at 7. They have to allow an extra hour because the dead take longer to vote.

IgnatzEsq said...

I can't watch TV news either. The only show I can tolerate the "News Hour" with PBS. It's much slower, and I like that.

Lem said...

No, I don't find it pleasant at all, as that taste of "Fox and Friends" just now made obvious. Too much inane blabbering, filling the time, maintaining a flow, desperate to keep us from switching channels, not to mention the commercial breaks (with teasers -- wait 'til you hear what.. -- about stories that I've always already read on the internet)

They act all in a panic, I want to get in line like in the movie Airplane and slap'm around. "Get a grip"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_GJkKMPHxw

Meade said...

I rarely bother with newspapers or TV anymore either. Whenever I do, I always seem to worry that I might be missing a pithy blog post or, worse, a comment in real time by one of my many favorite commenters too numerous to even try to name names.

Okay, I'll name just one -- Ruth Anne.

rhhardin said...

I just got a Nielsen TV diary, with a dollar included. I pocketed the dollar, tossed out the diary.

MadisonMan said...

6 PM seems like a ridiculously early time to close a poll. When do they open?

I'm Full of Soup said...

Meade:

LOL. You know Ruth Ann was overjoyed to read your comment but will pretend she did not even see it.

integrity said...

Simon said...
A friend called me the other day to say that it's in the bag - Toby Keith has endorsed McCain! He was totally serious. Love his optimism, but I don't think I can bear to be around people IRL this evening. I think I will get a big tub of cookie dough ice cream, some incense and a bottle of wine, and curl up with a laptop and a cat or two.



What is IRL?

May I suggest chocolate covered gummie bears from the Sweet Factory(I bought 2.5 pounds yesterday) and Ben & Jerry's Willie Nelson's Country Peach Cobbler ice cream for your viewing pleasure. And some primo grass, only kidding (not).

Richard Dolan said...

"All the flashiness and noise of TV only seems to disguise how inert the experience of watching it really is."

A newspaper offers a linear view of things, all reduced to a narrative told from the perspective of the all-knowing reporter. (The model is almost professorial in an old fashioned way: we know, you don't, so shut up and learn from your betters.) Alas, no one has enough confidence in the journalist-as-narrator to put up with that for long. The TV pundits offer the same thing in a sitcom version, sometimes with a little combat thrown in to liven it all up.

The wonder is that, like Ann, everyone did that forever, until they discovered they didn't have to put up with it anymore. And then the newspapers and TV news started their death-spirals.

Granted that the internet is anything but linear or univocal as a source of information. But it needs something to put it all in motion, something to react against and someone to do all the legwork. The internet cast newspapers and TV news in that role from the beginning, and there's really not much out there that could fill the void if that foil just disappeared.

As an information source and interactive experience, the internet looks good mostly because the current alternatives are so worn out. But the gathering, reporting and exchange of information are due for a revolution and we're in the midst of it now. Unfortunately being in the middle of all the turmoil isn't always the best place to get a reliable perspective on what's going on or what shape the revolution will utlimately take.

Stay tuned. The only certainty is that, five years from now, the present set-up will seem medieval.

John Burgess said...

Thanks for quoting the fact that only part of FL's polling stations close at 7pm EST; the Panhandle closes at 8pm. This is a fact that has eluded quite a few MSM organizations. And that's pretty amazing seeing that this fact was one of the crises in the early call of the 2000 election.

50% of my county in SW Florida had voted by the time early voting ended on Sunday afternoon. Florida had to extend the hours for early voting as many counties (not mine) had extremely lengthy lines waiting to vote.

Local media reported record turn-outs both for early voting and as the polls opened today. Just what that means is uncertain here as the county is marginally Republican in its voting history.

I'll be checking the major cable news stations--and my local station--during the evening. At this point, I care more about the local elections than the national ones. I figure I'm getting screwed no matter who wins; the only difference is which orifice gets assaulted and for how long.

al said...

Simon, Toby Keith didn't endorse McCain. He was on Glen Beck awhile back and would not say who he was voting for and stated that anyone who would pick a candidate based on something a celebrity said probably shouldn't be voting.

The closest thing to an endorsement from TK is when speaking about Obama - "And I think he's the best Democratic candidate we've had since Bill Clinton."

Hunter McDaniel said...

The trouble with watching news unfold on TV is that history only progresses at the rate of 60 seconds per minute.

It took me a while to realize, but the whole business model of TV/Cable news (no matter what their slant) is built around making me angry and fearful. That's their hook to keep me engaged. And I no longer choose to take the bait.

MadisonMan said...

IRL: in real life.

Synova said...

What is IRL?

In Real Life

As for the rest... I voted. I don't see the point in watching television all day long, or even most of the evening. Watching it won't change anything at all.

I think that the constant news about everything that we can't do anything about isn't healthy. I don't mean just about who will be president but hours and hours of Scott Peterson and Aruba and all the other "important" stuff, too. I think I knew better what was happening in the world when The News was on for the half hour after Hogan's Heroes, and again at 10.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Hoosier, I think Lake County closes at 7. They have to allow an extra hour because the dead take longer to vote.

It's possible. I'm originally from Lake County actually but I don't remember how long the polls stayed open. I only voted once up there before I moved to Nap town and that was the '88 election.

Come to think of it, you're right about the dead. I just thought they were really really old.

Hoosier Daddy said...

I think I will get a big tub of cookie dough ice cream, some incense and a bottle of wine, and curl up with a laptop and a cat or two.

I have a bottle of Jack Daniels, a couple cigars and will be playing World of Warcraft all night.

El Presidente said...

What you get from the television as the polls close won't be news. Exit polling as about the same margin of error as pre-vote polling. If the margin is less than about 5% then the well coifed don't know what they are talking about.

Go out to dinner, have a glass of wine (or two) and start watching at about 10:30 for real news.

Q: Will Professor Althouse have a big glass of whine this evening?

Hoosier Daddy said...

6 PM seems like a ridiculously early time to close a poll. When do they open?

Here in Indiana they open at 6am and close at 6pm. As long as you're in line by 6pm you can vote otherwise no soup for you.

For the deadbeat crowd, they can sleep in till noon and hit the polls when the lines are the lowest.

Simon said...

Al, the point is that the only people who might give a hoot who Toby Keith is voting for are already voting for McCain -- I have never met a liberal who likes country music -- so the idea that his support would be significant is just really out there and super-optimistic. I did see that Joe Perry endorsed McCain, and maybe that'll help: on the evidence of the last Aerosmith album selling, like, any copies, Perry has to have some kind of hypnotic voodoo going on!

OTOH, I guess they sold copies of Night in the Ruts, too - oh no! It must be Steve who has the hypnotic voodoo!


Integrity:
"And some primo grass, only kidding (not)."

LOL. It's not my bag, baby!

El Presidente said...

the whole business model of TV/Cable news (no matter what their slant) is built around making me angry and fearful

That model works for much more than just television.

Simon said...

I'm being a little flip about Lake County - the real reason, I suppose, is that it's a Chicago suburb and so closing at 7pm is functionally closing at 6pm for all the residents who commute across the border.

Cigars sound like a good plan, actually. Golf courses are about the only place you can still smoke in public these days anyway.

Synova said...

I have a bottle of Jack Daniels, a couple cigars and will be playing World of Warcraft all night.

Am I the only one here who plays EverQuest2?

I might do that today. I can get all of the important news in chat.

al said...

Simon, my wife is a huge Country Music fan. I just tag along to play designated driver. We were at a Montgomery Gentry show Saturday night and not one person we talked to (including members of the band) would admit to being an Obama fan. Strangely enough - not many were McCain fans either. More of voting against Obama than for McCain. OTOH alot of them are Palin fans.

Joe Perry surprised me. Then again so did Alice Cooper years ago. Neither seemed the type to care about politics - much less be passionate about it.

Enjoy your real life.

MadisonMan said...

I have never met a liberal who likes country music

One of my first CD purchases was Patsy Cline.

On the other hand, I really don't like Country Singer Jessica Simpson.

PunditJoe said...

Yeah, I almost never watch TV news anymore. With TV, one must sit through all the other fluff and foolishness while waiting for the important story - only for it to last 15 seconds! Doh!

Online is just faster and allows me to skip over all the junk.

I used to watch Fox News Sunday when Tony Snow was the host and I would also like to catch Special Report w/ Britt Hume, but I haven't even seen that in at least six months.

As for tonight - I plan on getting a pile of Chinese food, lots of Diet Dr Pepper (don't like sugary drinks) and ploppin' my butt in front of the computer so I can chat with folks in Second Life while watching the returns on PJVT.com. LOL

My favorite term for real life is "Meat Space". lol

chuck b. said...

How did people come to call a television a "set", anyway? It's just one thing.

Actually, now more than ever it seems reasonable to call it a set. There's the screen, the DVR, the Blu-Ray, the sound system.

chuck b. said...

And it's mildly amusing that you're watching "Obama" on the set, but there's nothing about Obama in the post. We're sort of left hanging, but we understand. You're hypnotized. Must. Watch. Obama.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Am I the only one here who plays EverQuest2?

I dunno. I never got into Evercrack myself. Actually the whole MMORPG games weren't my cup of tea at all but I did the WoW free 30 day trial back in the day and got hooked.

Dust Bunny is the othe resident WoW player but she's a noob ;-)

/ducks for cover

ricpic said...

There's something very sensual, that's right, sensual, about paging through the morning paper, with the vapor rising from your hot cup of coffee while crunching down on your bagel, or if you're a goy your hot cross bun, in the starting the day ritual.

ricpic said...

Obama will put a tax on the starting the day ritual. Ya know, because it's unfair, the poor can't afford the morning paper and a bagel...or something.

Cedarford said...

If there is entertainment to be had, it will be by people long-familiar with the line of crap TV dishes out to sports fans that "only the Big Event, the top championship, the heavyweight fight or Superbowl...really matters".
What will be entertaining, as the sports fans know, is the lower weight class bouts of closely matched opponents, the Red Sox-Yankee series in July...

Political fans should write off McCain-Obama as a good contest to break out the popcorn for, as there is no likely chance of an underdog upset. Obama-McCain is like US vs. China in a ping-pong match.

The more exciting stuff is the Senate races, ballot initiatives in various states - and the Internet is a faster way to get that than waiting for 20 minutes of coverage of happy college students in NYC to go by to see how the Coleman-Franken contest is going, or if New England is without a single Republican in the House.

Meade said...

AJ: Ha. She is such the elusive butterfly, isn't she?
BTW, it's Ruth Anne. With an "e."

Bushman of the Kohlrabi said...

Simon, thanks for the info on Joe Perry. I wouldn't have guessed he was a McCain man. I always thought he was the coolest looking guitarist in rock. Just another reason to like the guy.

Librarian said...

I agree, and feel the same way about videos of discussions posted on the Internet. I'm sure there are some pearls of wisdom in those bloggingheads.tv vids, but I don't want to spend 15 minutes prying the oyster open.

hdhouse said...

Interesting TV observations Ann..

Show me your friends and I'll tell you who you are....

Show me your media habits and I'll tell you the rest.

TMink said...

Hoosier, I like the way you think! OK, I can't smoke the cigars in the house anymore, and I play Everquest II, but I feel you brother. After I put the little ones to bed, my wife and I will either watch a Flight of the Conchords episode, or she will curl up with a book while I kill orcs or something equally useful.

I will wake up tomorrow, hopefully, knowing who our next president will be. Then I will take the kids to school and toddle off to work.

Two song lyrics come to mind: "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss" and "Same as it ever was, same as it ever was."

Trey

Hoosier Daddy said...

Thanks Trey. I cast my vote and am confortable knowing at least the best governor Indiana ever had is most likely a shoe in for another term.

As for the rest, well it's my last two Cubans, some Tennesee windage and WoW!

blake said...

"You'll never believe [blah]... Stay tuned for news at 11."

Googles [blah].

Hm. That's not very unbelievable at all. I don't think I'll stay tuned.

David said...

TV news just gets worse and worse, with the possible exception of Brit Hulme's show on Fox. At least they take an hour and chew on a few topics with a little bit of substance, even though the point of view is predictable.

Olberman is the worst--an even bigger egomaniac than O'Reilly.

But the very worst are the so called balance sessions, where then just have talking parrots from each side screaming talking points at each other.

veni vidi vici said...

IRL: infra-red lighting.

just kidding.


FNS, when Tony Snow was its host, was the best Sunday morning talker on the tube. He routinely made other hosts, including the heavily overhyped doughboy Russert, look like fawning pantywaists, which they pretty much were/are at any rate.

Nowadays, I prefer cspan.org for my videographed news and raw material. Television is just soo passe.