Rain in Rio, Fire in California, and the News

Through the miracle of the intertubes, lately, when I’ve been making my breakfast, I’ve been listening to news from a radio station in Rio. (I don’t know what they play when I’m not making breakfast, but the stream is here.) Anyway, its been raining heavily in Rio… and landslides have shut down a tunnel on the main artery connecting the “south” half of the city with the “north” half.

Each day, I learn exactly where the problems are, and what it means. Today, in a fifteen minute stretch, there was a nice, in depth discussion about how its going to affect stores in shopping centers. There was also an interview with a soil engineer. I learned something from both interviews… and not just about Rio. And along the way, I learned precisely what to avoid if I was in Rio and was headed to work or wherever.

I contrasted that with my experience fiddling with the radio trying to figure out what was going on the other day when I was at my Mom’s house and we were trying to decide whether to evacuate. The sky was black, we knew there were fires on two sides of us, but that’s about it. And the tv and the radio would only tell us about Malibu, because, well, Malibu is the only place that matters around here.

And unrelated to fires and rains, I realized I don’t even listen to American radio any more. Quite simply… I haven’t found any stations where I learn anything. And I don’t watch the news either, plus I really don’t think CNN – the version we get here in the US at least – holds a candle to just about any station’s evening news show in Brazil or Argentina.

Am I wrong about this? And if not, why does American news suck?