Fifteen Minutes Of Fiction Writing Gallery

Carrot Factories: My professional analysis of what is wrong with news programs on TV.
Posted by Douglas, Mar 4, 2008. 1449 views. ID = 746

Carrot Factories

Posted by Douglas, Mar 4, 2008. 1449 views. ID = 746
This post was written in 23 minutes.
After reading Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves To Death, I've never looked at news programs the same way...
This post has been awarded 16 stars by 4 readers.

There's something about the television news broadcasts that has always bothered me. They reminded me of something, but I couldn't quite place what it was - until last night.

There I was, watching the usual stupidity that passes for entertainment on a Monday evening, when one of those pretty talking heads appeared on the screen. "All this snow has been causing major problems for schools around the state. One elementary school in southern Maine is going to have to close its doors for the next two days while they work on a roof which may be collapsing from the weight of snow."

Then she added that famous phrase that we're all so familiar with: "Tune in at eleven for more details on this breaking story."

Now, I'm not a parent, so I have no children going to school anywhere, but for just a moment I put myself in the shoes of those poor parents. What are they thinking to themselves? They're thinking, Oh no! That could be little Suzie's school! We need to stay up until 11:00 to find out if she's going to school tomorrow!

Those poor parents. I bet they're not used to staying up that late. And I bet they never stopped to think: Why couldn't they just tell us NOW what school it is?

Well, why couldn't they? Do you suppose they don't know? Maybe the pretty talking head that's on the scene forgot to ask what town she's in. Maybe she dropped out of school after first grade, and so can't read the sign that sits out in front of the school where she's standing.

No, I bet that's not it. I bet it has nothing to do with the pretty talking head. I bet they just didn't have time in their thirty second spot to mention the name of the school. Yeah, that must be it.

No, wait. Let me elementary school in southern Maine or Lebanon Elementary School: which one is quicker to say?

So it must be something different altogether. It must be that the ratings on the news programs are so low that they have to resort to dangling carrots in front of our faces in order to get us to watch.

That's what the news shows remind me of. They're just cruel masters dangling carrots in front of helpless dumb beasts!

The really insulting thing is that they think we are the dumb beasts.

Suppose for a moment that, during the cold war, we had discovered that Russia had launched missiles at us. Do you think the pretty talking heads would have interrupted the nightly foolishness to say: "One major US city is about to be demolished by Russian bombs! Tune in at eleven to find out which city!"

No, of course not. Why not? Because they saw it as important information.

That's what's wrong with television news these days; they're so used to dangling useless carrots in front of us that they no longer can recognize information that's actually useful; to them everything is just a carrot.

Why do we dangle carrots in front of animals? For two reasons: either we enjoy tormenting them, or we want something from them.

Well guess what, pretty talking heads: I'm neither a rabbit, a gerbil, nor a horse, and I'm tired of being tormented and used. So from now on, whenever I see a pretty talking head, I'm going to stick my fingers in my ears and say "la la la, I'm not listening."

But don't worry, even though I'm not listening, I'm still watching your carrot-dangling antics. After all, you really are pretty - for a talking head.

Copyright 2008 Douglas. All rights reserved. has been granted non-exclusive rights to display this work. For permission to reprint this item, please contact the author.

You must be logged in to comment on or rate this writing.

Click here to join the Fifteen Minutes Of Fiction Writing Community!

This post has been awarded 16 stars by 4 readers.


Josiah T.
Mar 4, 2008
Haha, I don't watch TV. And am none the worse for it. :-)
   ~Posted by Josiah T., Mar 4, 2008

Mar 4, 2008
For the record - I did not watch the news last night. I looked it up online to find out which elementary school was shutting down temporarily because of roof issues.
   ~Posted by Douglas, Mar 4, 2008

Search for Great Fiction

Use the google search bar below to find writings exclusively on this site.

Custom Search

News!    Writing Prompt    My Assignment    FAQ    Contact    Privacy Policy    Search     Terms of Use     Login