Tuesday, August 27, 2013

In Praise of the Traffic Report

And now here's Arnie Pye with "Arnie in the Sky!"
I frequently listen to National Public Radio (man, ten years ago I never imagined I'd be saying that), and was recently struck by the polar contrast in tones between the reporting of world/national/local headlines and the rush hour traffic updates.

A bomb went off in Baghdad today, a soft, yet firm voice will announce. You'll be told the time at which it occurred; perhaps a vivid term such as "bustling market" will be employed to set the scene. You'll be informed of how many were killed in the blast, how many merely maimed. The local correspondent might make mention of broken glass, rubble, and panic, and you'll hear recorded audio of anguished families' screams. A translator will relay an eyewitness's account of the big BOOM, the screams and panic, the human misery and bafflement at the swiftness with which an unbelievable horror has consumed his or her life.

Nothing is ever mentioned regarding how this development might be affecting the late afternoon commute.

And next comes the traffic report. An voice that's almost invariable male -- tinged with a peppiness suggesting optimism in the face of adversity -- will mention that a vehicle fire shut down 476 W for most of the afternoon, but don't worry; they've got most of it cleared away and traffic is picking up.

No mention of the accident's cause. Nothing about how many people were injured or killed. Nothing about the grief of friends and loved ones. Nothing about the guilt of the survivor in the driver's seat, or the tragedy of the victim's inability to pay off the hospital bills once they've put his head back together. Only the most relevant facts of the immediate occasion -- only the information which matters most to the majority of listeners at that very instant is relayed. "There was an event, but not so significant that you'll have to take another route home."

Lately I've been experiencing a degree of information overload, which might explain why the traffic reports are suddenly so refreshing to me. Maybe we'd be better off if all current events were reported with the same integrity as the traffic updates.

"A military strike against Syria now seems inevitable, but Breaking Bad will be airing as scheduled."

1 comment:

  1. I had been hearing the news of this Baghdad fight that time and saw many innocent people got killed in the process. According to Health And Safety Training Peterborough, even if you're 100% sure that nothing can go wrong, there is always 1% chance that you can be incorrect in evaluating the situation.

    Arnold Brame