Monday, July 15, 2013

How news works

Here's another of the interesting ways in which the work of our friends at the Fair 'n' Balanced Network is fundamentally different from what grownups know as journalism.

At top, you'll see the No. 2 and No. 3 stories from Friday afternoon.* Nothing surprising if you're a Fox follower; there's some loony-left adherence to environmental regulations at the expense of Our Troops, and there's some more evidence that the Kenyan Muslim usurper is exposing us to the whims of his terrorist pals. Both stories are fundamental illustrations of how news works. In the first, people get to say that gubmint is evil, which to a large degree is why we have the First Amendment in the first place. In the second, the basic story is five to seven days old, depending on how you score it, but there's a triggering event:  Some of the usual suspects (Inhofe and Sessions, to name two) have written a letter actually blaming the commie rascal for, you know, making technology not work any better than it did last time.

No referee in the journalism world can call a foul on either story. People are supposed to talk back to government, and the opposition party is supposed to beat on the governing party. The catch, though, is that news is supposed to be new -- which is what makes the bottom two images interesting, because they're both from Sunday afternoon, and that means Fox actually broke the rules.

You can spin a story ahead almost indefinitely, as long as something new happens. In that sense, a house fire is pretty much like Watergate; the progression from 3 DIE IN BLAZE to PROBE FINDS SMOKE DETECTORS FAILED  to LANDLORD CHARGED works the same as the progression from WTF BURGLARY to NIXON DENIES WRONGDOING to FORD SWORN IN. But you can't cheat. You can't take an event from two days ago and pretend it happened today just because the party doesn't think people are angry enough about it yet.

That's what makes Fox such fun to watch in the long term. The Fox ethos is built around the claim that, well, we're following the same journalistic standards everyone else does; we're just opening up a little more space for the voices that the Librul Lamestream Media are desperately trying to suppress. That is, of course, nonsense, but it's not always nonsense that's evident at first glance. Sometimes it's easier than others to watch Fox scrambling around in the bizarre net of its own fabrications, and the recycling of two two-day-old stories is a pleasant illustration.

* The screen grab was around 6:45 Eastern, if you're scoring along at home. 

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Anonymous Mark P said...

Unfortunately, our local TV stations in Atlanta, which are as polished as they come and compare very well in almost all respects with, for example, LA TV news, do the same thing all the time. I see a story on one day, and then for the next two, three or four days, I see exactly the same story told in exactly the same way, as if it had never been reported before. I guess it's hard to come up with actual new stories every single day in a metropolitan area with only a little more than 5 million population that is also the state capitol and a major regional hub.

5:17 PM, July 16, 2013  
Anonymous raYb said...

The argument is sound, but the problem is that you CAN cheat. As Mark P noted and the story above illustrates, it's one all the time. The question is"Do people read it every time or listen every time?" First appearance, probably. second, maybe. But the repetition serves as reinforcement or, perhaps, community building among those who already view the current government as illegitimate and bent on destroying America.

7:38 AM, July 17, 2013  

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