Early last evening I sat down on the couch with my iPad and began scrolling through my Twitter feed to see what was going on in the world. Little by little more and more Tweets appeared about a hostage situation in Australia. Following along, the facts as known were that someone had taken over a Lindt Cafe in Sydney holding at gunpoint everyone who had the bad luck to have been in there at the time. Some patrons were forced to stand at the front window with their hands up and holding an Islamic flag.
Now things looked really bad and the BBC, Australian news outlets, others in Europe were all blanketing their coverage with this story. So I flipped the tv to our American cable networks. Not one was broadcasting anything live, much less this story which had worldwide attention. CNN had dinosaur stories, MSNBC was airing who knows what, maybe prison or ghost stories, and Fox had a previously taped Megyn Kelly program.
What we learn from this is that our 24 hour news networks take Sunday off. Oddly, those reporters who work for those cable networks weren't tweeting about this story either for most of the night. Everyone was off. There was no evidence of "news as it happens" last night from American news outlets. Around 10 Greta van Susteren finally heard about Australia and Tweeted: "BREAKING NEWS : An armed gunman is holding up to 13 people hostage inside a cafe in one of Sydney's main business areas [Sky News Australia]".
The frustration many felt over the absence of US news last night was shown in reaction to Greta's tweet. The relies were of one voice: "Breaking news 5 hours ago". "That's not breaking any more, Greta. You just woke up?"
The response to other late to the story reporting by others brought similar replies. Twitter was the only place to find live time updates.
Now this morning American cable network on air people have the story and they've gone from no presence to reporting with opinion commentary. How on earth can people who were asleep or otherwise not paying this story any attention, wake up and have "opinions" on who and why this has happened?
I turned on Morning Joe (MSNBC) this morning and one of their people translated the words on the flag the hostages had to hold up and then said, "This is to Muslims what the Lord's Prayer is to Christians." Oh my gosh, you have to be kidding! This is what passes for factual reporting these days. Click.
Our journalist world is a punk poor one nowadays. No one is a reporter, everyone a commentator.