Noose of the world
For a few days now, I have been toying with the idea of getting into more serious articles. Let’s face it, here at the BBs and the YYs, it is not often that I weild my pen for heavy issues. In fact, in the digital age, it is absofrigginlutely rare for me to weild pens at all, except as perhaps a very poorly thought-out improvisational weapon if I face a McGyver-style plot situation. However, with actual main-stream media like ‘The News of the World’ wrapping up their papers and contemplating retirement in prison for their sleazeball tactics, I believe it adds on the collective burden of serious news to all the other news sources on the net… including us bloggers. But then again, considering that there are at least 125 million of us out there, I guess I can afford to slack off. The way I figure, one solid mention of global terrorism and I should be set for months. And the last sentence counts, so I’m good.
What’s happening to the so-called serious journalists these days? I submit that the entire news industry has been operating on a flawed assumption from the word go. For some reason, the industry still seems to believe that people want information; that they actively seek it. This may have been true with the older generation, but for the modern short-attention-span consumer, this idea is as obsolete as an 8-inch-floppy disk.
People don’t seek news. They seek entertainment, and if you manage to slip in some actual facts about the current world, most people would tolerate it. According to the latest statistics doled out conveniently from my head, the ideal news to entertainment ratio is 0.043. So the media has to shout to be heard. They have to pick out the most sensational or the most entertaining snippets and run with it.
But if you’ve been living on Earth for a long enough time, you’d realize – Except for a small percentage of people, life is pretty much boring most of the time. You don’t have mutant superheroes vs supervillain battles every morning, you don’t have superspies jumping off planes without parachutes to disarm an evil mastermind’s nuclear weapon, you don’t have light saber accidents on the highway,and you don’t have mutant megalomaniac powerlords bent on controlling the universe through conniving, yet ultimately, utterly stupid plots.
So it’s not a big mystery to understand why they resorted to criminal activities for getting sensational news. No… A bigger mystery is why a veteran news organization like ‘The News of the World’ got caught for it. It seems like such an amateur move – getting caught like this. What we need in today’s world are professional journalists who are dedicated and committed to appearing ethical, no matter how many laws they have to break, no matter who they have to bribe.
Investigative journalism seems to be dying… largely from undernourishment. People have been neglecting it for so long that they don’t seem to realize how important it is. Without serious journalists, our knowledge would be limited to whatever we can ascertain from the magic 8 ball. That would be a sorry state of affairs, and I know this because I checked my magic 8 ball.
But people get what they ask for, and what they ask for is more entertainment than news… I have been reading news on and off of late, and though I am sure that there are probably serious news items of global significance to be read somewhere, none of it seems to have registered. Unless the news is delivered as a side dish to entertainment, I have a tolerance limit of maybe three sentences per article. I read any more than that, I had better be laughing.
It’s not often that you can get comical or controversial or comically controversial snippets from daily life. It’s not surprising that many news media are closing up shop. The few survivors seem to be those who resort to unethical behavior. This is why hard hitting journalists had to hit hard on the wiretaps to get to the good stuff… But all things considered, my prime objection is to the inefficiency of the thing. The illegal wiretapping, the sifting through the data, the bribing of the officials, the trying to piece together a story… in the end, you have no guarantee whether the resulting story is going to be the controversial breakthrough you’ve been hunting for, or a twelve hour compilation of grocery enquiries and prank messages left for Mr. Hugh Jazz and Mr. I. P. Freely.
So the more efficient solution would be… to lie. Fiction has always had the advantage of being wonderfully flexible – you can make it go any way you want; and you are always in charge of the story. And don’t tell me that a news broadcasting company can’t simply make stuff up and rise to the top. Fox News is one of the most trusted news source in America.
So am I saying that there is no future at all for news? Of course not. On the contrary, news will evolve to suit the consuming capacity of the new generation… more focused… more direct. The average consumer will get the news that he wants when he wants it. If you want to hear a statement from the American president, you just add him on facebook and poke him for a response.
You also get to choose your own reality – newspapers will be running amok with articles giving ‘both sides’ of the story – Alarmed by the hard-hitting factual data from accredited scientists warning you about catastrophic climate change? Turn the page to the basement armchair theorists who use incoherent logic and rejected letters to ‘Popular Science‘ magazines to prove – indisputably – that it’s a hoax. Too tired to read through an entire 350 word article? How about if they gave you a cartoon strip after every two sentences? Major news items will be short, crisp, and bullet pointed, using chat lingo for condensed viewing.
The news of the future will be printed on milk cartons, and even there, the primary focus would be for celebrity fashion. Main-stream news media will eventually lose all credibility and put the fate of news delivery into the hands of bloggers and twitterers worldwide. With the advent of the internet, we now have the collective intelligence of a twelve-year-old high on sugar syrup, which is scarily too darn near the levels of Michelle Bachmann and Sarah Palin. I dread the day when people turn to comedy sites for actual information.
But the die is cast. The shift of credibility and the balance of power has already begun. I can feel it.. the pull, the drive, the motivation… the irresistable, insatiable drive to seek the truth; to let the common voice be heard… and I intend to get that voice out… via wiretaps.