Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Pretend News

One result of the frenetic on-rush to unlimited media consolidation in the '80s and '90s was the inevitable commodification of "news." It was predicted, even as it occurred, by scholar/critics such as Bagdikian, Parenti, Chomsky...many more (and me). The integration of entertainment values into both the gathering and the production of the "news" has by now greatly ambiguated the "line"--the differences that make a difference--between "news" and whatever else "news" is not.

That as preface to a cite from and a link to quite fine piece of graphic illustration of just how the insinuation of entertainment into news values has made quotidian the "pseudo-event" predicted by Boorstin in his landmark analysis of "The Image..." in 1961. That was close enough to 50 years ago not to quibble over. Only now, when it's already far too late for anybody to do anything about it, folks are starting to notice.

Coffin's illustrations/graphics are catchy too, appropos, funny, "hip," and far too complicated to try to capture in this primitive text assembler.

5 Things The Media Loves Pretending Are News
By Nick Coffin Feb 19, 2010 683,827 views

Reporting the news is really hard. We've seen those poor guys standing in the hurricanes, trying to hold on to their microphone while debris flies by. And it's a good thing we have them; blogs and Twitter are nice, but to find out what's really going on in the world, at some point you need good old-fashioned journalism.

So can you blame a news outlet for using shortcuts and falling into the same old mistakes and cliches over and over again, just to fill space?

Yes, yes we can.
Coffin then lines up and nicely deconstructs the five "stories," at least one of which it is possible to predict will be seen on any and every newscast on virtually every 'local' station in the country EVERY DAY!

The Five?
5: "Let's Ask Idiots About Science." Wherein celebrity/notoriety is (intentionally/ignorantly) conflated with the possession of a relevant opinion on complicated subjects.

4: "________"-Gate Scandals. There is always some story that serves the propogation of that wretched, stunted fruit of Wm. Safire's lexical loins.

3: The Weather. Like the mountain, it is just there.

2: Recycled Obsessions. The story of e.g., any missing white girl or lost child.

1: Product Placement. "Stories" that are more and more less and less thinly disguised advertizements for the "news" outlet's business and commercial patrons and customers.
It's a nice, precise, concise, parsimonious distillation of the semiotic economy of the institutions. I'd love to have a discussion with somebody who's read the Boorstin book...

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