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by Neena Louise

Ever since September 11th, cable television news networks have implemented streaming "tickers" along the bottom of the television screen spelling out supposedly newsworthy items. They defend themselves of this new annoyance by saying there's so much going on that it can't all be covered by commentary. Oh, puh-leeze. This may have been true in the days immediately following September 11th, but it is no longer the case and this new addition to screen clutter is useless and irritating.

While watching CNN the other day, I became distracted by the ticker which read "Welcome to CNN's ticker for [date]. This is the Xth day of the year; X days left in the year..." THIS is "news"??!? THIS is deemed so important it must be added to CNN's cluttered screen? And, my, isn't CNN's screen cluttered? There's its bug (logo) beside the program name; that stupid ticker along the bottom; the caption that states who the talking head is; captions under THAT caption with "sound bites"; the time flashes in various time zones in the lower right corner; a "live" caption in the upper left corner; stock prices periodically appear...how can you possibly watch the actual program under all that mess? 'Course when the Scourge of CNN, Paula Zahn, is on, it's a welcome distraction. But I digress...

I was dismayed when network bugs made their appearance a few years ago (a "bug" is the network logo that's always there in the bottom corner of the screen). Viewers hate them and many have professed to be watching less TV because of them. Who would have dreamed it possible, then, that the networks could come up with something even more annoying like the ticker? THIS is how they're going to increase viewership? THIS is how they are going to lure viewers back? It's very difficult to watch anything with the constant movement of a ticker as a distraction - especially irritating when it has nothing to say (unless, of course, you just have to know how many days are left in the year). How many more ways are networks going to come up with to enrage viewers? I cringe when I think of what they may dream up next. Perhaps a split screen with 4 images and streaming tickers under each one. Or have the news anchors sing the news. Or dress in clown costumes. Or be naked [shudder].

I was always under the impression that cable news networks were reserved for serious news. If I want fluff, I'll watch any number of exploitive tabloid shows such as Inside Edition or Entertainment Tonight. I always turned to MSNBC, Fox News and CNN for real news, but the tabloid shows seem to have more serious pieces than the so-called news networks. The news channels are so busy typing in their ticker information, the actual programs have waned in their relevance. I don't turn to CNN to find out which celebrity the public would most like to cover in chocolate (yes, that was really a topic one day) - I want to know what's going on in the world (duh). I have better luck with the Weather Channel than CNN or MSNBC or Fox for serious news.

Enough with the tickers. We don't need them. We don't want them. They are not necessary. Go 'way. Shoo.
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