I stopped watching local news years ago. It was Jeffrey Dahmer that did it. This was in 1991. One story of the bodies found in his apartment was enough. But 20 minutes of a 25-minute newscast, for days at a time, with each story giving more gruesome details, was more than I could take. Sometimes the headlines are all we need.
When I've glimpsed local news since then – mostly when my parents are in town – I see it hasn't gotten much better. It's occurred to me that during the 20 years since I stopped watching local news, Illinois has had two governors convicted of crimes, the country has witnessed the dismantling of any safeguards on our financial system, we've seen scores of kids killed while standing on the street corner, our education system has lowered dramatically compared with the rest of the world (we are now ranked 18 out of 36 industrialized nations) and we've been plunged into a recession. I wonder how much better our country would be if the broadcast media had focused on any of these things before they became out of control and did damage. Instead, we got cursory looks at the stock market, against the backdrop of incessant reporting on Jeffrey Dahmer or Casey Anthony or Balloon Boy or OJ.
But I digress.
Recently, a friend of mine has been touting WGN news in the morning as fun and entertaining, while still reporting about important things. So, since I was wide awake at 5:30 this morning, I headed downstairs to get in a quick workout – and thought I'd see what the show was all about.
Problem is, I wasn't alone. Ever since her other mom (her Uma) moved to Florida last month, Dixon has been my shadow. I can't pee without her following me – even at 3am. This morning, just as I tried to sneak downstairs, her head popped up. So off we trudged together.