I’ve noticed a wide variation in how disturbed friends and miscellaneous New Englanders feel about the situation in New Orleans. Some are very emotional while others don’t seem profoundly affected. I have started asking folks “how much TV news coverage of the event have you seen?” Feeling distraught seems to be correlated with watching TV. Those who’ve read textual descriptions of the suffering in newspapers or on the Web aren’t anywhere near as upset as those who’ve seen video clips of people suffering. Reading the lines “hundreds of people were screaming” isn’t as disturbing as seeing one person scream.
This seems to jibe with something a public TV producer once said: “Television is useless for conveying information. If you print out the script for the 20+ minutes of nightly network news it is only a few pages that you could read in a minute or two. Very few facts are communicated during that newscast. Television is good for making people feel a certain way.”
Has anyone else noticed this phenomenon?