Sunday, November 20, 2005

More on the news

Several comments on my grumbles about "imaginary" news, in the last post.

re: "why I left journalism...."your point makes perfect sense, but the transverse is also true; the obvious response to a leak of an incident of that kind is a denial by everyone involved or otherwise 'in the know.' as much as we all trust the neil gaiman's we read[and certainly i'm not implying we should have anything but the utmost trust in you ;)], us "outsiders" basically need to hear both sides and decide who we trust more. which is, of course, what allows such stories to thrive. i'd compare it as well to serious issues like the clarence thomas confirmation hearings. sometimes one version is entirely true, and sometimes the truth is somewhere in between. john

Well, up to a point, Lord Copper...

What fascinated me on this (and the reason why I blogged about it) is that here you have wholly invented stories which first surface online, in each case quote "an insider" to deliver entirely fictitious information, are then picked up by Indian Newspapers as news, and (in the case of the Angelina Jolie Shut Down Beowulf Production story) finally turn up in the UK and US tabloids a couple of days later and then have a sort of a half-life in several perfectly respectable papers. I think it's safe to assume that the Guy Ritchie is Directing Stardust story will continue to run and run (it's already hit the Indian newswires since I posted that last). Never mind that Matthew and Guy parted company several years ago, or that Matthew's been announced as producing and directing this since the news leaked out in Variety, a month ago.

In each case, it's not that "the truth lies somewhere in between". It's that you have something that someone made up from the whole cloth and then reported as true. (Neither of them are in any way important as stories, neither of them matter to me in any major way, certainly not enough to put whatever reputation I have in this blog for honesty at risk, anyway.)

So I don't think that "the public should be allowed to make up their own mind" when the choice is between something perfectly imaginary being reported as news, without even the possibility being reported of the thing being wholly untrue in the first place. Yes? You ought to be free to wonder whether glow-in-the-dark meat is indeed safe to eat, but not to need to wonder whether it exists in the first place; free to wonder whether a jet-lagged Bush really did attempt to escape from a Chinese press conference, but not whether there really is a George Bush and whether he went to China or not.


I read the article "one reason you gave up journalism." I am a student in a broadcasting program near Chicago, IL, USA. I struggle with the same issues. Over the past 2 years I have pulled off my blinders and dived into the media world. The nature of the beast is not what I expected. I have many observations of which I could write volumes of stream of consciousness about.

My Idea of true journalism is to hold people accountable for what they do, be a watchdog for the common man, and not get caught up in political/financial partisan hackery for self advancement.

I can't think of that happening too much anymore.
Yesterday, I listened to a radio package where the focus of the story was "how it can be dangerous to walk all day in a concrete mall." Meaning people might drop dead from the strain on their heart from WALKING.

This is not journalism. This is theatre. This is the grand stage of mediocrity. Praying on peoples fears and offending them by talking down to them. Sometimes I have a good feeling that one of my colleagues will someday change all this. I do not feel up to the challenge. (see jaded in the dictionary.) I feel that I should wash my hands of it and not become part of this player's theatre. Any thoughts?


Well, I left journalism. But then, I didn't want to be a journalist in the first place. I wanted to make stuff up.

There are good journalists out there. It's not all descended to the level of American Broadcast News ("Something YOU use EVERY DAY may KILL YOU. Find out WHAT in TONIGHT'S NEWS.")And I don't think that apathy, or leaving news reporting in the hands of people who don't care what they write or broadcast as long as they get paid, is much of a long-term solution, if you wanted to be one of the good ones. Ideals are good things to have. When you abandon them you start dying. So if you want to be a journalist, then you should be. Just be one of the good ones.


There's a fun review of ANANSI BOYS over at the Boston Globe

And given the comments here on Patenting Story Ideas, I refer you to a Making Light thread, on patenting the Flying Saucer. (And the Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich with the crusts cut off...?)