Tuesday, October 27, 2009


So shortly after I got back from lunch I decided to check a couple of news. I’ve made it no secret that I’ve been very disillusioned with the crap that masquerades around as news lately. But I still feel some pathological need to check in with the big sites periodically just to see if I’m missing something important. Well what do I find today at 12:15pm? CNN.com has a front page, biggest font and a picture and story with video of the fashion accuracy behind the series “Mad Men”. MSNBC.com has an article about the 10 day old non-news event about Falcon Heene AKA“balloon boy”. And FOXNEWS.com has a story about another hoax, the Latvian meteorite.

This is just sad. Did nothing important happen today? Or have they just completely forgotten what classifies as news? The top stories on three of the biggest news sites today had nothing to do with news at all. Who cares about any of these events?

This first story, “Mad Men” fashion accuracy, are you serious CNN? Who cares? Shouldn’t reporting of this calibre be reserved to a fan site on AMC.com? How in any measurable way will the accuracy of inaccuracy of the suits these actors wear affect my life? It won’t.

Next we have two hoaxes that wouldn’t have existed at all if the media didn’t have a predisposition to air anything at all without checking the facts first. Even the local authorities played the media to help gain the trust of the Heene family and get them to slip up and admit the story was a hoax. What does that say about the condition of the media in this country when law enforcement can bank on the fact that they won’t try to follow up on the story and do any kind of accuracy check at all before running the story? Even a cursory check with anyone who had taken 8th grade physics would be able to tell a critical thinking reporter that there was no way in the world a balloon that small could have lifted itself and 37 pound Falcon Heene. But who cares right? They pay good money for that news helicopter so let’s air the stupid footage without any kind of critical review. And 10 days later we can still talk about it as if something new has happened even though it really hasn’t. Give it a rest. The sooner the Heene family falls back into obscurity the better.

I haven’t read much on the whole Latvian Meteor yet. The one picture I saw was obviously created with buried explosives and not the relatively slow moving mass of a meteor. I’ll wait for the scientist to debunk this story completely. Until then I’m sure all the media is perfectly content to continue giving the attention that was planned from the beginning to this complete non-event.

I’ve just finished reading It’s Not News it’s Fark is written by the creator of the website fark.com. The author, Drew Curtis has spent a decade running a website that makes fun of the crap that we continue to call news. The book is a riot. It’s irreverent and frequently potty-mouthed, but always right on the mark. Each chapter is dedicated to one of the many ways that the media puts crap in print, online or on the air.

To hear conservative talk show host lambaste the modern media you’d think that they were controlled by the some liberal conspiracy organization. I’ve been personally analysing the news for several years looking for the liberal bias that is so frequently trumpeted. The only way you could get a liberal bias out of the crap that gets aired is if you define anything that isn’t conservative bias as a liberal bias. But in fact much of what make headlines is neither. It doesn’t even deserve to be called news.

Who cares about John and Kate? It’s only news to about 12 people on the whole planet. It’s just entertainment to some of the rest of us. And most of the country couldn’t’ care less. The fashion accuracy of “Mad Men”? Puhleeze. How about a story about the math accuracy of the latest spending bill? That would be news that really affects me.

My only criticism of the book as that I wish he would have dedicated a whole chapter to the media’s impotence. Michael Eisner has gone on record that he didn’t think it would be appropriate for ABC news to report on any of Disney’s business dealings. He doesn’t mind, however, an ABC news report about the technology behind the latest Disney movie. So self reporting is okay if it’s positive. You just can’t bite the hand that feeds you. Well considering the size and depth of most of the media conglomerates today playing by Eisner’s rules it becomes very hard to say anything at all. So what are you left with? A news media that is pretty impotent.

I’d really recommend reading It’s Not News It’s Fark. Don’t dismiss it as satire. His critique is right on the mark.

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