Yellow Journalism

Posted on May 6, 2012. Filed under: Journalism, language, Piss Ants | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

Yellow journalismSensational news-reporting.  A style of journalism that makes unscrupulous use of scandalous, lurid or sensational stories to attract readers.  Media using this style, collectively, are referred to as Yellow Press

Well, the definition speaks for itself.  Out of today’s enormous field of journalistic enterprises, those dealing in “sensation” stand out like a tart at a nuns’ convention.  They are too easy to spot, but, then, it’s not like they’re really trying to hide, since being noticed is the goal.  Today we call them tabloids… celebrity updates… the evening news…

Not just fringe media.  Even the big boys of broadcast lean to the lurid, pretend “news.”  Most recently, down in a big city on the Gulf Coast, there was this hit-and-run thing;  actually, it was an alleged sideswipe of a parked car (not a collision, not a fender bender, not an injury) at low speed in a parking zone as one driver, allegedly, tried to leave a bar.  How many hundreds of those happen every month without making the local evening news? 

But the owner of the scraped car said he saw who did it, and, it was mmffmnfm lxrrmfs, a well-known conservative talk show host.  Hot dog!  NOW, we got some news.

After the story broke, by  golly, we got some bona fide video that (allegedly) places our subject at an establishment in the area.  Look, there he is,  alone, carrying a bottle (beer?) and making his way toward the exit.  That’s all that’s in the video.  Can’t tell which, or what kind of, establishment.  So, all we got so far is a scraped car and a witness who says he saw who did it, video footage apparently showing the named suspect leaving someplace (his only companion a… beer?… bottle) with the time-stamp just before the alleged time of the alleged damage.  Those are the facts, ma’am.

BUT WAIT!  THERE’S MORE!  The security footage, according to the voice-over, is said to be from a nearby bar.  Not impressed?  Get this:  it is a bar frequented by GAY persons.  Thus, the moniker “gay bar.”  Every time we (remember?… we…   the stupid masses?) were updated on the “ongoing investigation,”  we also got to hear the term GAY BAR vigorously delivered at least 5 times per update in association with the name of this alleged heinous perpetrator.  Never did  find out if the subject was:  gay, married, a father, a Catholic, agnostic, football fan, Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, evolutionist, a brother, an Elk, marathon runner, vegetarian, or even if he was hungry a lot.  Any and all of those  are as relevant to the alleged property damage as the fact that there was a gay bar nearby.  Not relevant, but, by golly, loudly proclaiming GAY BAR just had to keep audiences glued to the television.  It must have been the first high for those ALLEGED reporters since they got to say “penis” over and over some years ago on the morning, afternoon , and evening news hours.

Remember cars rigged by a documentary producer to explode when impacted by another vehicle to “prove” car manufacturer negligence?  How about the super market chain selling out-of-date meats, only, it was the “reporter” who switched labels on the packaging?  [Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.”   -Sir Walter Scot]

Next:  Does the yellow ever go away?

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Responsibility

Posted on April 29, 2012. Filed under: Constitution, Journalism, Piss Ants | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

As in accountability and blame for.

That good ol’ First Amendment gives to all of us the right to broadcast our views and news, either wirelessly or via that old-fashioned Gutenberg press (Version 1442.2012)  Print it, text it, blather it.  Used to be, only those with expensive and difficult-to-use printing devices or broadcasting equipment could get the goods out there, but, now anyone with a computer and web access has the same avenue as the big boys.  Just write, text, or talk whatever comes to mind, punch a button, and, WOW! everyone in the world can instantly share.

This constitutional freedom of (ex)press(ion) does not specify that the grantees (that be us) exercise due care to not hurt the feelings of other persons.  In fact, libeling other persons, inciting public unrest or sedition, and endangering national security are just about the only restraints on the expression of opinions while telling stories about all them other people and events.  So, emphasizing the sensational, salacious, and sleazy ain’t aginst th’ law…   maybe in poor taste, even malicious…   but, not illegal.  So, if not Big Brother, then, who does arbitrate the good, the bad and the ugly of our social literary mores?

Drum roll, please…

Cue the trumpets…

READY?  …We the People! (with a big “P” just like “The Press”)  Ain’t freedom grand?  Every time we pay attention to some item (broadcast, i-net site) or lay our money down for a book or other publication, we “vote”, as a society, on what we want to know and how we are told about it.

Information is packaged just like hard goods.  How to books, biographies, fashion trends (okay, my list is about 200 pages long, so I’ll just say…) …you get the picture.  The packaging itself is a marketing tool.  Hard goods (say that cordless hair-dryer you’ve always wanted) with attractive pictures and clean wording describing the product;  books and magazines with glossy, imaginative cover designs; celebrity and current trending periodicals with surprising pictures and tantalizing headlines;  tabloids and news outlets winging it every issue.  Getting the attention of the audience is paramount, and, the marketing that The People pay attention to is the marketing that proliferates.  Tired of seeing all those lurid tabloids at the check-out station?  Sorry, but, The People have spoken — at least enough of them to make the genre profitable.

Now that we have that settled, I’ve been wanting to talk to the rest of you about your choices of what is “good.”  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to tell you how to think, but, c’mon…   really?  The Simpsons and that  whole genre for all these years?

I… apologize… for that.  Entertainment choices are a whole different field.  Escapism can take many forms, and, we might lose ourselves in anything (action, satire, comedy, romance, nature…) while seeking relief from the daily reality.  Anything to restore balance to our manias.

But, really…   The Simpsons?   …lest you think I am intolerant, I did tune it in once and saw that  w-h-o-l-e  episode.  I’ve been doing avoidance therapy ever since.

Dense populations (numbers, not a surfeit of bone heads) means big markets for everything.  (Oh!  Just received a quick-note from the Marketing Management Association.  Says, “Don’t be so quick to rule out bone heads as viable and lucrative market targets.“)  O-kay…   moving right along, we got your internet, lots of restaurants, clubs, smart phones, computer games, land-a-date-if-youre-lucky, identity thieves, the evening and local news, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, e-Bay, tons of bail bondsmen, and bunches more of marketers.  All after our money.  None wanting to wait in line.  Each eager to touch us first.  That advertising scene is one frantic jungle.

Next up:  “The public has a right to know”

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Come to Papa, razzi

Posted on April 21, 2012. Filed under: History, Humor, Journalism, Piss Ants | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Cave men understood the value of the story.  In fact, they invented the concept of the wall as seen on today’s social sites.  The excitement of the hunt, if not the sheer necessity of it, got those cave journalists in the mood to go to press paint.  (Say what you will about stone painting as a medium, but it has sure outlasted last century’s newspaper.)  Look!  There’s the stampeding herd, the flight of spears in the air, jubilant hunters all around…   and a hand print?  Researchers have discussed the significance of that, but, maybe, it was just a count of the take on that hunt.  You know…   5.

They even had moving pictures of sorts.  Those caves were dark, except for the light of dying torches and hearths, and the cave walls rough and uneven.  Together, the light and wall texture composed a lively show as the flickering flames sent shadows dancing across the paintings, imparting an almost supernatural feeling of motion right before all those sleepy eyes.  Every night, in the quiet time before sleep, the hunt — in motion and living color — was played out once again.  And, the narrator emphasizing, “We bagged five!”

We don’t do cave walls anymore.  We learned during the Renaissance how to do it right.  We want wall art, we just build a big, stone cathedral, light it with flickering torches and/or oil lamps, hire a da Vinci or Michelangelo, and watch those guys laboriously pound, grind, and mix select ingredients into just the right colors and textures, then turn ’em loose on those walls and ceilings.  WAIT!  THIS JUST IN:  a couple of cases of spray paint, a half-dozen taggers, a city-full of walls and overhead structures just waiting for proper treatment…   and someone in authority saying, “Don’t you dare!”  Actually, with that last example, there isn’t much story line, just lurid, flashy colors,, maybe even some drawings, but, basically, just meaningless stuff that shouts, “Hey, looky here!”  Which brings us to paparazzi and tabloids.

Paparazzo (singular of paparazzi, which is plural of paparazzo) is a character in a movie (La Dolce Vida – 1959) who was an obnoxious celebrity-chaser with a camera and a nose for scandalous and prurient news items.  “Obnoxious” in the sense that he got into people’s faces with that flash bulb and saw/reported only a salacious perspective in every activity in which the stalked celebrity engaged.  Subsequently, that name came to be applied to an entire class of…   can we say photo journalists?…   who regularly stalk and ambush celebrities as they go about their daily activities.  Privacy invasion (with those super telephoto lenses) is no biggie with them.  Nor is a shot in the mouth from a pissed-off celebrity who does not want the individual and his camera getting into the cab with him/her, or preventing her/him from exiting the cab.

Tabloids seem to be the place where all those paparazzi shots are displayed (including the one in the mouth).  Whether the photo journalist submits a story with the hard-won pictures or a tabloid “reporter” reviews the pix, then makes up a story from sketchy information provided by the submitter is a mystery rivaling “Sasquatch” and the “yeti.”  Or, maybe no one is consulted; a photo is submitted and a random story from file…   or somewhere…   is tacked onto it.  Like the old dime novels from the 1800’s that glorified famous and infamous celebrities of the time, an ongoing drama surrounding the big name is fabricated and published as a “developing” story.  Really, how many more times can I believe that Angie and Brad are splitting up?

Next up:  Veracity and responsibility

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