Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Adventures in agenda-setting

Here's an interesting bit of hed writing from the Fair 'n' Balanced Network. See, traditionally, a hed (even on a commentary) is supposed to signal something about the story, so you'd expect there to be something in this commentary about who's happy with Brit's "take" on Iran.

Needless to say, there's no such thing. The commentary -- are you shocked! shocked! yet? -- reminds you of what an awful weenie the president is, but the hed's all inference. And Chavez doesn't just go without his first name; he isn't mentioned at all.

Ain't that interesting? A story doesn't have to have anything whatsofreakingever to do with Hugo Chavez, or Venezuela, or anything remotely like him/them/it for this hed to make sense at Fox. All it has to do is fit a master narrative in which the far-left naif in the White House is eager to cavort with dictators at the expense of American interests. (It has nothing to do with Fox, but here's a particularly delusional take on the matter from National Review Online.)

Way back in 1953, A.J. Liebling drew a good distinction between "the reporter, who writes what he sees" and "the expert, who writes what he construes to be the meaning of what he hasn't seen." He should be living at this hour. The general run of "expertise" on Iran is several clicks past abysmal. But do send a kind thought for the reporters who are trying to handle the coverage on the ground -- or a couple of time zones away -- and the people they are covering.

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Blogger The Ridger, FCD said...

When Michael Bérubé renamed his blog "Chavezian Airspace" I thought he was overreacting to the right's hysteria.

Now I see he was merely prescient.

9:55 AM, June 23, 2009  
Blogger John Cowan said...

When I was working for Reuters Health (as a technologist), I used to bitch a lot about may heads, but in medical news there's no avoiding them, it seems; the news is often that a new treatment for X has been found, and then you have a hed like "Y may cure X" -- can't say it does cure X, of course.

3:37 PM, June 27, 2009  

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