Does The Yellow Ever Go Away?

Posted on May 13, 2012. Filed under: Journalism, language, Piss Ants | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Alas, Virginia, no!  And, by “no” I mean “absolutely not.”  I am afraid it’s the “pecking order” thing embedded deep in the genes of all multi-cellular life.  Oh, yeah, you got your goody 2-shoes, reformers of human nature, tolerance, Dr. Phil, Dr. Spock, Dr. Fraud…   Freud…   but, all of that is basically just spittin’ into the wind — you just can’t change a leopard’s spots.  At least, not overnight.  A million years or so of natural selection might do the trick, but, really, who has that kind of time?  Best thing to do is just go with the flow, adapt to it, resign yourself to it, etc…   There will always be a little yellow in every headline-grabbing story.  (Uhmmm, on a personal note, Virginia, you don’t still believe in Santa, do you?)

Marketing.  That’s what they call “yellow” these days.  Like, if it’s playoff time, they media-hype old rivalries or even print stuff that CREATES controversy just to make sales; or, if it’s election time, they play on old phobias and Elysian dreams.  The line-up to identify the current opinion hot button contains the usual suspects:  economy, jobs, taxes, global warming, integrity (we’re talking about politicians here, right?“), improper conduct, family values, lifestyles…   They parade before the editors until someone says, “There!  That one.  That’s the incumbent’s (or challenger’s) Achilles’ heel.”  Then, depending on which runner is favored by the media, the order goes out, “Minimize the importance of that” or “Play it up really big.”

And, by “minimize,” they mean, “Bury it.  The stupid masses needn’t bother themselves with such trivia.”

And, by “play it up,” they mean, “Exaggerate the crap out of it.  Shock and awe the stupid masses into our line of thinking…   and voting.”

I do not mean to imply that main stream publishers and broadcasters are subject to being biased like the rest of us.  If you are having to infer anything from my text, then I am not being so clear as I think I am.  So, just to be sure you get my drift:   ALL MEDIA ARE BIASED, PRONE TO EXAGGERATE THE IMPORTANCE OF THEIR OFFERINGS, AND TAILOR THEIR MESSAGES TO A TARGET AUDIENCE.  Does that make it clearer?  Like Diogenes’ search for an honest man, the search for an unbiased reporter/blatherer can go into serious over-time.

Responsibility and veracity are very important in information transmission.  But, it is the individual recipient who bears full responsibility to test the veracity of information content and its sources.  You have the freedom to either be brainwashed without resistance, or, to demand to see the ingredient notice for the washing solution so you at least have some reading material during the rinse cycle.

Next up:  Panache, smoke, and mirrors

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The Story is Everything

Posted on April 16, 2012. Filed under: Journalism, Piss Ants | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

It is a crowded world we inhabit.  Well, crowded with humans, anyway.  Clawing our way to the top of that food chain left us with very few natural predators (most notable among those remnants today are microbes and other humans).  Instead of “clawing our way…” I could have said “conquering our environment,” but, the jury is still out on whether the Natural Order of Things is pleased with our meddling in so many of nature’s balances.  If not, an inevitable “adjustment” to our achievement may balance the ledger long before a killer asteroid can do the job.  Until either occurrence, our low attrition rate reinforces our pre-eminence at the top.  Them babies just keep coming.

More people means a larger consumer base for everything from basic survival needs to an increased demand for, and variety of, information.  This is where the media comes in, and the PAU obligingly keeps turning out hordes of journalists eager to find an audience ripe for their pronouncements…   and, even more ripe for being parted from their money.  (No carping, here.  Somebody has to pay for all that advertising.)

The Story is eternal.  From time immemorial, from that first ancestor’s telling of  a wondrous chunk of rotten meat (or, if you prefer, a nice berry patch) just over the hill, our kind has depended on The Story for survival.  Every instance of information sharing is a story, including technical manuals and associated schematics, if you understand that language.  Social information transmits the story of who is at the top of the power pole, who is in the middle, who is at the bottom.  The pecking order in a flock of chickens is information-sharing relative to the power hierarchy.  Tribal history and knowledge, before writing, was passed on verbally; this lore was vital to locations of tribal resources, enemy territory, who got to eat first and who got to eat last, who was welcome in the group, who was outcast.  The Story has been life to humankind.  Just because we have reduced the number of entities who want to include us in their dinner plans does not mean our need for The Story has been excised.  The Story is the embodiment of information technology, and that is mankind’s first great invention — not fire and not the wheel.  The IT department predates it all.

The world is over-run with humans.  Humans seem over-run with media looking for a place — any place — in social awareness.  We need The Story like a strung-out addict needs a fix.  No matter who you are, or what your preferences, there is a surfeit of suppliers:  news stands with a boggling amount of printed material, on-line sites with e-offerings equally intimidating, and libraries containing centuries worth of out-of-print material.  For amusement, you can even tune in your favorite teleprompter-reader (a.k.a., news anchor) and watch him/her dazzle you with flashy form devoid of solid substance.  Instant gratification at its finest.

Today, profit is the motive and The Story is the game.  If you have something to tell, you have to get an audience’s attention to get them to buy the publication and buy into the story, and, you have to do it regularly.  Out-hustling the competition to meet publishing deadlines plays its part in mediocre offerings leaning more to the lurid than the pertinent.  But, hey!  It’s freedom of the press.  You gotta love it!

Next up:  Come to Papa, razzi

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