Friday, June 13, 2008

Catastrophic News Network

by David G. Woolley

CNN reported a 7.2 earthquake in Japan on Friday evening. Six confirmed deaths, seventy injured and counting. There was another tornado today in Kansas. Four dead. Two days ago a group of boy scouts were whipped to death by a twister in Iowa. A memorial ceremony recounted their bravery and their service as top scouts—the best of the best. Iowa has been beaten up the past week. They took over from the most recent news media disaster darlings Kentucky, Ohio, China, Myanmar and Iraq.

CNN and about three hundred other media outlets reported that rivers in Cedar Rapids, Iowa crested above flood height this week, in some places at levels not seen in centuries. They're calling it the five hundred year flood. I didn't know they'd been keeping flood records that long. Do they really know how high the Des Moines River crested in June of 1508? That was the same year Maximilian I was crowned Holy Roman Emperor.

In the middle of the CNN Iowa flood report producers cut to forest fires in Northern California. I'm not certain how they’re related, but then I was watching CNN, the Catastrophic News Network. The cameraman focused on a blaze about the size of a small campfire at the base of a very healthy looking, well-watered evergreen tree. He panned through the forest and when it was apparent there were no other flames he came back to the little fire not ten feet away. That's when I started talking to the television. It wouldn't have been nearly as embarrassing if I were at home. It is good advice to never talk directly to a television at Wal-Mart. The security cameras pick up on people like that, particularly if you grab the monitor with both hands, shake it a little and start screaming, "Hey! Kick a little dirt on it. Stomp it out. You could save the entire forest!"

Somebody must have heard me. CNN cut back to the Iowa flood and tornado story before the news anchor finished her environmentally sensitive report on the potential loss of pristine forest and before the computer graphics guys could take down the scrolling headline: California Wildfire Out of Control. The difficult thing about television news is that you've got to find some footage to match the hype.

We have The New Testament to thank for warning us about CNN. It wasn’t the increasing frequency of whirlwinds, tempests, earthquakes or floods that was cause for concern over catastrophic news. We’ve seen disaster before and we know how to clean up the mess. It was the hype, the media-created fear that concerned ancient prophetic visionaries—enough fear, in fact, to cause our hearts to fail.

The pendulum swing from believing that God is in charge to worrying that the world is going to pot happens one CNN report at a time. The shift from faith to fear is almost imperceptible. Instead of losing your reliance on God all at once, you give it up incrementally to fears large and small. Because where fear is, faith can not be found.

The next time you see a Catastrophic News Network report, feel for the victims, find out how you can lend a hand and then take your television monitor in both hands and tell the cameraman to, “Kick a little dirt on it.”

No fear. Got faith.

Join author David G. Woolley at his Promised Land Website. He is also a weekly contributor to the Latter Day Authors blog and he writes commentary and opinion at the Utah Ranger's Far Post blog


Sandra said...

Hmm, hadn't heard about the earthquake in Japan.

My kids and I were talking about the media hype and fear just the other day. We were discussing how any story could be as major or as minor as the reporter chose to make it.

My mantra: If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear.

Francie Jenson said...

See, now this is one more reason why I hardly ever watch the news. Never mind that every school report I ever received included these words, "Needs to pay more attention to current events" ...

And yes, Dave, I've been a lurker, quietly enjoying your non-soccer related (mostly) posts (and hardly even noticing your typos either!).

David G. Woolley said...


I figured we'd had our fill of disasters. In fact I was busy writing this CNN post when word about the Japan earthquake broke. It used to be if you didn't like the weather in Utah, wait five minutes. Now its, if you don't like the flooding, the tornado or the tsunami, wait five minutes. Go figure.

Francie "the lurker" Jenson:

I figured you were out there lurking about, reading but not writing. Should I hire you as the Top of the Morning editor. I'd have to give you all the permissions and passwords. I don't know if I'm willing to do that. I'd hate to have a post suddenly appear titled: Why I am a Jerk. Or, Top 10 Reasons David G. Woolley should be flogged and shunned.

As for the Current Events, don't you have more than enough of those at your own house to have to worry about some elses? Good call to shut off the TV. Even if you risk a poor grade in your Junior High social studies class.

David G. Woolley

PS: There is a soccer post on the way this week...

Francie Jenson said...

That was funny. I think you have me confused with Nina. She probably has that top 10 reasons post you mentioned already written.

Anyway, your typos add to the charm of your posts. I'm still trying to figure out what you hope to gain by planting 528 inpatients in a garden. (Maybe a new therapy for swift post-op recovery?)

David G. Woolley said...


Which top 10 post did you mean? The one about flogging or the one about shunning?

I plant typos in my posts to add charm. Inpatients was one of the better ones, wouldn't you agree?

David G. Woolley

nascent said...