Columns » Penny Post by Andrei Codrescu

Billion Dollar Idea

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Here is a billion dollar idea I'm giving away for free: the Follow Up Channel.

There is so much news every day, you can barely take something in before it's completely erased by something else. You have no time to feel, to reflect, to figure out for yourself what it means. War. Terror. Border security. Homeland alerts. Anthrax. Sarin. Soldiers ambushed. Civilians killed. Children orphaned and maimed. Famine. Celebrities caught. Officials indicted. Companies bankrupted. Oil prices up. Burning election issues. The dying oceans. And in the swirl of this constant emergency, people go to work, take their children to school, after-school, practice and more practice, go shopping for food and bright new gadgets, surf the Web, consume vast amounts of entertainment, music, movies, books, keep up with family, celebrate births, mourn deaths, attend meetings, dance at festivals, and worry about health, retirement and the state of their souls. There is barely room for questions in the maelstrom of life in these States now, but what questions there are receive few answers.

One of the most important questions, an answer to which would go a long way toward relieving some of the pressure of our daily grind, is this: "And then what happened?" It's the question we ask from the time we are children until we die, and we rarely get an answer. News stories these days seem urgent enough to make you drop whatever you're doing to listen, but they are dropped instantly as soon as they are no longer burning hot or scandalous enough. And yet, at the time and, no doubt, afterwards, they have an enormous impact on our lives. What, for instance, happened to the story of anthrax that shut down the government and freaked out the whole country shortly after 9/11? What happened on 9/11 for that matter? So soon after the tragedy, Congress itself would like to know. Those are the big stories.

And then there are hundreds of other stories, about our bodies, our travels and the rest of the world, all of them important, which sometimes don't even make it out of the crawl at the bottom of the screen on CNN. And this is where the Follow Up Channel comes in: a serious 24/7 cable channel dedicated to the aftermaths of the stories that flash blindingly past on the prime news.

For filler, the channel can run features like, "Whatever happened to so-and-so," and the upshot of court cases, thus stealing thunder from both A&E and Court TV. But the main business: tell us what happened after what happened happened. Not knowing makes us more anxious than we already are. There is gold in them follow-up hills.

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