When I was about to write this article, I was eagerly waiting for the newscast to broadcast once again those pieces with the same images year after year (old people wiping their foreheads with a handkerchief, young people taking a bath in the fountain…) and titles like “Record-breaking heat” or “40 degrees perceived in Milan”. Every year, I ask myself what ‘record’ actually means.
If we are referring to the summer of 2003 – which was very hot – then the comparison sounds good, but in relation to the last three, four or five years, what is the record?
I’m not questioning the use of the word ‘record’, which may be correct, but the lack of a precise reference which makes the meaning of the sentence quite vague. On the other hand, if the journalist in question didn’t utter that word, who would pay attention to the piece?
Not to mention the introduction of the concept of ‘perceived heat’ – which did not exist until a few years ago – referring to a combination of heat and humidity. Who could otherwise cite the 40-degree psychological threshold without referring to the combination of both?
Obviously, the same applies also to winter: “Italy is in the grip of freezing cold weather” is an evergreen title. Then, we can say that the news is like seasons. All winters are cold and all summers are hot. What’s the news?
The news lifecycle has its own trend: from scoop to the utmost irrelevance in just 7 days. Probably, you often hear about the same topic for 7 days, in a more or less detailed manner, in a circumstantial, futile, trivial or trivialized tone, until the news is no longer interesting and nothing else can keep this matter alive. Then, another news is brought to the attention of the audience, until the same cycle is completed.
I clearly remember when, some years ago, a serious train accident occurred and was reported by all the media. Unfortunately, tragedies may happen; fortunately, they happen rarely. That week, the media mentioned train accidents each day, even when there were none. Many things were said about this topic for a whole week until the media started to talk about a group of commuters who got stuck in the wagon of a local train just because of locked doors! Again, what’s the news?
“Another accident in the Milan railway station: commuters trapped in a wagon”. I still remember the images of those angry people locked behind the glasses of folding doors waiting for someone to set them free. But was it actually a train accident or just a mistake?
Obviously, the media reported the complaints of those commuters. We Italians like always complaining about something, to the extent that many television formats are precisely based on complaints.
But this is another story and I will tell it further on.