I’m a news junkie, but the time has come for me to cut back. The first and best place to do so, I have decided, is local television news. It’s altogether too depressing, especially the nightly version that I usually watch before bed. In Chicago, where I live, most of each broadcast is given over to murders, carjackings, hit-and-runs, and interviews with grieving family members of the victims of these crimes.
Some years ago I stopped reading either of Chicago’s two local papers, the Tribune and the Sun-Times, those other vehicles of local news. Each paper grows thinner and thinner and, I am told by their readers, dimmer and dimmer. Local news isn’t readily available online. What brings me back time and again to local television is my continued interest in sports. Local stations provide scores, news of injuries, trades and the rest along with the weather, though I can get the latter, minus all the unnecessary flashy graphics, from my lady friend Alexa…
So rampant has crime in all its varieties become that no neighborhood in Chicago is free from it. Owing to local television news, I learn about gang murders where stray bullets kill innocent victims (often children) on the city’s South and West sides, but now also carjackings and other robberies in the once-safe neighborhood where I grew up. Retail stores on plush Michigan Avenue have been ransacked. Formerly serene suburbs have experienced murders. Two people were killed recently near a restaurant I frequent. All this is brought home to me nightly by local television news.
At the end of a report on a crime, more often than not the reporter will say, “No suspect is in custody.” Not reassuring, that. Saddest of all perhaps are the interviews with victims or, if they are no longer alive, their families and friends, who tearfully beseech the criminals to turn themselves in, so justice can be done for the deceased. Yeah, right.
In connection with all this crime, local news in Chicago will often feature interviews with Cook County prosecutor Kim Foxx, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot or police chief David Brown. In their rather pathetic attempts to maintain that everything is under control, the appearance of all three only provides additional discouragement. In her various pronunciamentos, Ms. Lightfoot is especially adept at self-righteously conveying a sense of hopelessness.
— Joseph Epstein in Chicago News Is Nothing but Crime