Julie Williams Speaks out: No more dumb news, please

I am pretty sure I lost 10 IQ points this week. Yes, Mom and Dad, I am confirming your worst fears. I'm going to come home from college less intelligent than when I left; have fun paying my tuition bill. Are my classes really that dull? Have I been sniffing Sharpies? Was going out Thursday, Friday and Saturday really a horrible choice? No. My precious brain cells were sucked out of my head and violently consumed because I watched the news. Thousands of children die or nearly die from abuse and neglect every year in this country without any attention at all from the media; the fact that the entire nation is fixated on a boy who wasn't even in a balloon is disgusting. I am referring of course to Falcon Heene, the "Balloon Boy." As soon as we discovered that a typical day in the Heene household includes attempting to sell coverage of a family hurricane-hunting outing to CNN, searching for extraterrestrials and filming for "Wife Swap," we should have left them alone to deal with their inflated egos and irresponsibility. Furthermore, on Wednesday, Oct. 14, Meghan McCain, daughter of John McCain, took a "fun picture" of herself in a black tank top and uploaded it to her Twitter account. She claims she took the picture so everyone could see she was reading a book about Andy Warhol.The book was in about 10 percent of the picture, her face takes up another 10 percent and the remaining space is absolutely consumed by McCain's own alien-seeking Mylar balloons.Young McCain, who is ironically attempting to gain legitimacy in the realm of political writing, immediately began liberally dispensing four-letter words on her Twitter in response to the negative comments about the photo. Nobody would have cared after 10 minutes if she hadn't then written an article for the Daily Beast, an online political journal, and then used every other possible mass media outlet she could to reiterate it over, and over again. It's like Michael Jackson died all over again.While we are on the subject of mature and classy happenings, I would also like to draw attention to one of Politico's main focal points over the weekend: Levi Johnston, the father of Bristol Palin's child, is posing for Playgirl magazine. Now that is one solid way to make a family photo album more interesting!Honestly, a large part of me is mad at myself for drawing more attention to this garbage that is news. By bringing it up, I'm being hypocritical. I've been asking myself why I even pay attention to all of this in the first place, because it clearly has no effect on my life. Unfortunately, this wannabe celebrity fodder is mixed in and indistinguishable from actual, pertinent news, and that is a problem. There is a place for lighter news but it needs to be clearly separated from anything legitimate.The past few weeks were very significant for the United States both domestically and overseas. According to CNN, President Barack Obama has been productively (not a word you hear often in association with the American government) meeting with generals about the war in the Middle East and is debating sending 25,000 troops to Afghanistan. In Congress, the nothing-short-of-epic battle over healthcare is only getting more dramatic. Also, Hurricane Rick is poised to wipe out Baja California sometime next week.All of these stories contain information that individuals actually need to know to make informed decisions that impact society (especially if you live in Baja). There is no reason that I should have to watch some dimwit news anchor claim that he saw a six-year-old fall out of a balloon every time I pass a television in the Union. It is never acceptable for a headline about Meghan McCain's inability to maturely own a camera to be featured before a headline that could determine whether or not 25,000 people die in Afghanistan.

And frankly, an article about Levi Johnston naked is wrong under any circumstance on a legitimate news Web site. Journalism needs to evolve to survive, that is understandable. But unless online journalism begins to prioritize stories in an intelligent manner, Johnston's Playgirl spread won't be the only thing that's a joke.

Julie Williams is a freshman English major who apologies for wasting your time with this article about wasting time.

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