We all know that the news has become a cutthroat business these days, with stations everywhere vying for the attention of viewers. As a result, things have become "newsworthy" that are somewhat laughable when you think about it.

The weather. You'd think that knowing to the half mile where the next rainshower will fall is an essential part of every person's life. We have a whole channel dedicated to weather, of course, but then we have local stations trying to edge each other out by providing "up-to-the-minute weather" dozens of times a day. Just how many times do we need to hear that the wind is blowing? What can we do about it anyway? I'm baffled by the glee with which local weather forecasters view coming storms and the tendency to blow them out of all proportion. (I think that pun was intended.)

Anything to do with children. I wish I had a nickel for for every feature I've seen on local news where kids are shown doing things they do every day and we're supposed to believe it's a ground-breaking idea. "Students at High School A are learning about careers." Stop the presses. "First graders at B Elementary School had a visit today from firefighters." What a concept: safety taught by admirable adults!

Maybe best of all (or worst, as the case may be): the Almost Event. Local news often doesn't have a lot to report, and even they know how dull hearing the same news day after day is. So they dig up events that almost happened. A business almost burned down. A clerk almost got robbed. And a prank almost turned into a tragedy.

I know, they have to say something, but my intelligence is insulted by the fake excitement these almost-amateurs try to create about weather (which in Michigan isn't very predictable anyway due to the Great Lakes' influence), schools doing for kids what they're supposed to do and do every day, and trumped-up tragedies that never happened or weren't that tragic to begin with.

Last night there was a piece on a fire at a local business. The cause was not suspicious, the building was insured, and though someone's livelihood is interrupted, no human was hurt. So we focused on the pseudo-tragic. It seems the business had a rodent problem, so they'd gone to the pound and got a cat. When the fire started, the cat didn't make it out. "She was a good cat," the owner reported, and the newswoman looked positively grief-stricken for all of two seconds before she went on to a story about kids preparing to celebrate Veterans' Day.

If all those firefighters hadn't been at the school teaching kids to drop and roll, maybe they could have saved the cat.

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