Sometimes television brings us wonder, entertainment and enlightenment. We are able to meet true heroes and fictional ones through the storytelling of talented writers.
At other times, we witness events of people at their worst. The mass killings that took place last week in Newtown, Conn., were truly tragic. Every national broadcast and cable outlet sent crews to cover the story as it unfolded over the weekend. After 20-year-old Adam Lanza carried an assault rifle with multiple bullets into a school, writers, reporters, photographers, engineers, editors and producers scrambled to share with the world what took place.
It is easy to criticize the media for going overboard with prying into people’s pain while working on presenting a report. The pursuit of truth of what took place can cause trauma for those who knew the victims. And what makes it worse, is that the promotion and presentation of that truth is often done in a way to gather in more viewers and in turn increase the bottom lines of venture-seeking capitalist conglomerates.
However, the role of the media isn’t always pretty. As a society, we look to our media outlets to provide information. We then process what we’ve learned and then put it into perspective in accordance to what we deem important in our daily lives.
The weather forecast will lead to our clothing choices the next day and the reports of the Packers beating the Bears on Sunday gives us conversation fodder. Information from a tragedy may cause us to take pause and to hold onto our family members and friends a little closer.
In the late 1700s, Louis XVI called a meeting of what was then known as the Estate General. The First Estate consisted of the clergy, the Second was the nobles and the Third was the commoners. Upon the French Revolution, the press gallery of the house of commons was referred to as the Fourth Estate.
As the role of the Fourth Estate may evolve and change throughout the ages, at its core, its essence remains the same – to observe and inform each estate what the other is doing.
Closer to home, we looked to our area media on TV, radio, digital and print to tell us what took place when a gunman entered a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, and when lives were lost at a shooting at the Azana Salon in Brookfield. In those tragic and deadly situations we saw our community rise up to support each other in the wake of those incidents. We never may learn the "why" behind the loss of life we experience, but through the stories that are shared, we learn the love and sharing of support as we heal.
In today’s age, the role of the Fourth Estate means informing the public of what terror took place at an elementary school shooting, as uncomfortable as that may be for all of us.
TRACKING TRENDS: Each week the most chatted about subjects on Twitter are tracked by Hootsuite, a social media management software. Although the plane crash and death of singer Jenni Rivera brought a number of comments in the Twitterverse, it was the Grammys and pop stars that were the most Tweeted about last week.
MORE SPEED: Time Warner Cable is boosting its standard internet service this month for subscribers.
"Standard Internet is our most popular tier of Internet service because it’s ideal for everyday use and a great value for our customers," said Rob Marcus, president and chief operating officer for Time Warner Cable. "With download speeds 50% faster, we hope they enjoy it even more."
The company is raising the maximum download speed from 10 Mbps to 15 Mbps. To upgrade, push the "Reset" button on the modem, or unplug the power cord from the modem for 10 seconds, plug it back in and then reboot the computer.
Media is bombarding us everywhere.
Instead of sheltering his brain from the onslaught, Steve embraces the news stories, entertainment, billboards, blogs, talk shows and everything in between.
The former writer, editor and producer in TV, radio, Web and newspapers, will be talking about what media does in our community and how it shapes who we are and what we do.