The word ‘sensationalize’ has an origin. Many a journalist ‘d be quick to point out that media critics are journalists too – the critic who ported that manteau (ized that sensational), part of the media. What better way to further the idea that yet another field regulates itself quite well, thank you – the ecological marketplace of humankind keeping itself in check. Selbstbedienung. The story serves itself.
What if a morning broke and a god-gazillion journos decided they had nothing more to say? Would the world be quickly uninformed? Would we be any more or less equipped or likely to start or stop action in War-istan or keep United Vegetable from slaughtering the farmers in Equivia and harvesting their bones for the next stage of the hybrid project?
Would the European or American public suddenly end up having no idea what is going on in Ukryria?
It is said that consumers in the digital media age receive poor quality product relative to their twentieth century print counterparts because they choose not to pay for their content. I have yet to see a study that proves that the public is less knowledgeable as to what is going on around them, more ignorant about what’s happening in the world, or more misinformed today than twenty to fifty years ago – and it’s not due to a lack of research. The larger the sample size, the more there is to be ignorant about, and verifying other’s stupidity only misdirects attention from one’s own, and when the people asking the questions and gathering & analyzing the data are not the least ignorant among us, then the entire enterprise is comprised of photographs of stinky garbage.
A society brought up on the belief that there is both good and bad information and that you can tell the difference by listening to the good informers is a society sure to be reared on bad information. But don’t take my word for it. Look at the data and make up your own mind.
There are two kinds of junk science. There’s the science that isn’t science, but is presented as such despite a disregard for the rigorous standards set forth by Henry A. Science in 1582. Then there’s the study of junk.
I see a dozen different newspapers on display just inside the entry to the bakery café in which I sit. The side and front of the rack face me, more or less. I can’t make out the papers’ print other than the mastheads, each with its own fancy font, some no doubt named for the paper itself. The Süddeutsche Zeitung has a profile shot of the German chancellor standing opposite someone in what appears could be a negotiated pose made to look like an authentic moment of diplomacy, not that there’s a difference. Two rows up at the top is the Berliner Morgenpost with an infographic peeking out from behind the title of the Frankfurter Allgemeine just below it.
These are all placed vertically on side display, and I can see the backs of the competition on the far side of this skeletal rack. Between these two side displays lie the boulevards at about a forty-degree incline, the uppermost being a shallow stack of the Bild, which I can only make out from its red & black schema, below which sits the B.Z., basically vying for the same readership as the Bild, latter casting its shadow upon former, literally. As I put this pen to paper, this shade is obscured ostensibly further by the three-quarter eclipse of the sun, an event I wouldn’t have known about had it not been reported upon, early & often. I can’t recognize it regardless; it’s as clear and bright as any first morning of spring.
At any rate, it doesn’t matter. The moon can’t hide the sun, the profit from both the Bild and B.Z. goes into the same pockets, and the readership of all those other papers are sure they’re better informed.
Die Wörter infizieren und ignorieren, verwischen und verschlimmern, beschämen und verfälschen, und verkrüppeln, und verdüstern, und verfinstern nur. Aus dem Mund und auf dem Papier, missbrauchen sie durch ihre Missbraucher.
barely related Sundae link:
Schechter geht nicht mehr: RIP for Danny Schechter