Friday, June 24, 2016

I don't pay attention to the news and I'm not ashamed

When I tell people I don't pay attention to the news much, they look at me like I'm some degenerate ostrich with her head buried in the sand; like I'm a willful ignoramus that just doesn't care about anything but herself. The truth is, I don't pay much attention to the news because I'm so tired of the news not being news. You can't find facts anymore. It's all opinion. If it doesn't serve the channel's/publication's agenda it just doesn't get reported on. If you want to find something good about Hillary Clinton, you can't because all you get are smear pieces. If you want to find anything bad about Obama, it's all blow job pieces or made u, right wing bullshit. If you want to find any facts at all, you have to read 10 different articles on the same goddamn story to see how much is congruous and then you're still not really sure.
I blame reality TV and 24 hour news. Reality TV turned everything into, "Oh no you didn't!" It made manufactured drama into something people were attracted to above all else. Is following some self entitled, big assed, trust fund baby ho-bag around while she goes shopping a good story? No. Is it somehow compelling to people when that self entitled, big assed, trust fund baby ho-bag yells at the clerk at Louis Vuitton for not having the exact purse she wanted? Yes? For some reason? Somehow, showing intense emotion, regardless of what that emotion is, has become the only entertainment anybody cares about. Does it matter if you are right or wrong? Does it matter if you're morally upright or not? Does it matter whether you're smart or dumb? No. It just matters that you made the most noise.
The idea of 24-hour news really pushed news into the entertainment industry like never before. There has always been an element of showbiz in journalism, but making journalism into a 24 hour entertainment product has exacerbated it. When the news was on for an hour a day, they had to cram as much important stuff as possible into that hour. When the idea of the 24 hour news network came along, everyone thought that we would have more access to more news. The opposite happened. We saw the same couple of stories run every half hour. People got bored with that, so those channels had to scramble to fill up 24 hours with interesting content because, like any other TV station, they had to fight for ratings.
Enter the color commentary. This is when you started getting these opinionated assholes doing nothing but shouting what they think at everybody and passing it off as news. As long as the shouting was about some kind of current event, that's all needed to be called news. Facts were never a part of this. At first, the shows crept in. There were a couple at prime time and that was it. The daytime news was mostly still actual news. Then, slowly, like genital warts, another one popped up, then another one, then another one, until all you had was one big social disease infecting every channel.
Now news has basically been reduced to four assholes yelling at each other because, just like on reality TV, intense emotion, no matter what the emotion is, is what sells. It could be intense anger, intense rage, intense sadness, intense loudness over who knows what because all anyone can hear is four people yelling without one, solid, coherent sentence among them. We know that they're hyped up, we don't know what about, but it's interesting in that train wreck sort of way.
When was the last time that, for any length of time, you actually saw people reporting news on one of these 24 hour news networks? You used to have one or two people reading news stories all day. When's the last time that happened?
We are so obsessed with sensationalism that satire has become indistinguishable. Did Donald Trump really eat a live puppy at his father's funeral? Well, it sounds like something he'd do. Let's just go ahead and say that he did and we'll wait for Snopes to debunk us later. It will increase our traffic for now at least and if we get busted, we will issue some little piddly apology that nobody's going to read. To make matters worse, because satire is indistinguishable, because journalists have gotten lazy, all they do is go to Google and Twitter for news. Satirical stories have made it into mainstream news outlets because some lazy putz couldn't be bothered to do a little research.
But who could blame them? You can't pay your bills with "exposure," but that's all anybody offers. Of course, eager, young writers think it will be worth it just to "get their name out there," fall for it and end up selling themselves for nothing and the American public gets just what the publishers paid for. I don't blame anybody for using Google and Twitter as their news sources when they're not getting paid.
We want 10 stories a week from you. We can't pay you even though we are a world-renowned publication worth millions of dollars, but writing for us will really help you get your name out there. Then, as your name gets out there, people will click on your name when they see it on the story, then they might read your bio, then they might find your blog, then if they find your blog, they might click on an ad on your blog, and then you might make 2/1000 of a cent when they do. It's a great opportunity!
No. Non serviam.
Even local news has started going down this avenue. Though it was always sensationalized to make you think that the world was a completely horrible place and if you dare to step out of your door, you be raped, robbed, and murdered, perhaps in that order, perhaps not, you could at least rely on the terrible stories to be true. A little bit of me died a few months ago when a local reporter I actually respected started ending the news hour with some catchy title for her opinions.
...and people wonder why, when it seems like such a good job for me, when I write so eloquently, did I give up on journalism? I could see the poorly informed, grammatically incorrect, IQ dropping, sensationalist bullshit writing on the wall....right next to an ad for a Canadian pharmacy.
What can we do? Nothing. We can write letters like this to all the news agencies and tell them that we want more facts and less bull crap. They won't give it to us. It's not what their sponsors want because it's not what will tickle most people's pickles. Even if it weren't about pickle tickling, there's a larger issue. When you've experienced intense emotion, your general willpower goes down. What better time to gently suggest that you buy a brand-new car to make you feel free
again, or a new face cream to make you young and fuckable again, or some herbal alternative to Viagra to male you feel like a man again, or a class to teach you how to buy and sell real estate so you can be rich and feel important again, or some ancient Chinese secret to weight loss (it won't make you crap your pants, we promise! If you aren't satisfied or if you crap your pants within 30 days, will give your money back, including shipping!) to make you feel happy again, or this really cool little thingie that lets you make 99 water balloons in 30 seconds?
The game is rigged. No one is invested in telling you the truth. Everyone is invested in selling you some bullcrap. It's either the bull crap they pass off as news or the bull crap they try to sell you in the commercials. Now, because more people are getting their news online, you don't even know when you're being advertised to anymore. You think you just read an article about some cool new idea, but you actually just read an ad.
If journalism really was a relentless pursuit of the truth, I might still be in the game. It is not and I have no interest in making money off of convincing people that what they really need to feel like their dreams aren't dead is a limited edition, buy one get one free for the first hundred callers, brand new, state of the art, used by NASA desk lamp that syncs to your smart phone and rubs your clit for you! Call now and we'll throw in our SECRET GUIDE to orgasmic workspace illumination, a $70000 value, yours when you buy the Clit Kisser desk lamp for three easy payments of $19.95!
-shoots self-
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