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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