2010-09-23 / Sam Bari

The news is a snooze

You can’t beat a system you can’t understand
By Sam Bari

The decline of the newspaper business cannot be denied. The subject is old news. Hard publications desperate to survive have joined the throngs and started publishing on the Internet, dragging their sponsors with them.

When I speak about “throngs,” I’m talking about the thousands of new sources for alleged “news” that are available since the advent of the World Wide Web. And what a web it is.

Many of the new publications on the Web attract nutcases and conspiracy theorists by the dozens because the Internet makes their messages available. As ironic as it may be, many more nutcases out there in the netherworld want to hear their rants.

Sadly, people believe that it must be true if they “read about it on the Net.”

It’s easy to join the fray of news sources with a blog. Some of the most widely read blogs cost close to nothing to create and can be produced in a matter of minutes.

Many of the blogs are electronic tabloids that steal from other publications and claim the content as their own. The Internet is a fundamentally unregulated “Wild West” show that allows participants to publish nearly anything they want with impunity.

I am, however, disappointed in the performance of the mainstream media. One would think they would bring some credibility to the Internet by publishing quality news designed to elevate the consciousness of their readers.

Unfortunately, they joined the lowest common denominator and demonstrated their collective ability to be the best at sensationalizing the most mundane, inane non-events with imagination and aplomb.

For instance, the world is suffering from economic meltdown, wars are in the making in every political hotspot on the planet, and the effects of social and cultural imbalance and unrest are destabilizing governments everywhere.

One would think that these conditions would provide adequate inspiration for news that would keep people informed about events that could affect their daily lives and well-being. But, no — that is not the case.

Some headlines and stories that were most popular this week were:

“Guinness picks world’s longest nose,” Guinness being the world record people. That story listed more than 172,000 hits on Google and was a major article in at least 180 Internet publications.

The Daily Finance, a respected online financial news publication, used “Banker – or Reptile?” as the headline for its lead article.

It actually posted pictures of lizards and other reptiles next to photographs of financial leaders to compare the similarities of their facial features.

I must remember that most news sources are businesses, and giving readers what they want is paramount to success.

That makes the importance of the following headline and article easier to accept.

“Karl Rove says Christine O’Donnell needs to explain witchcraft ‘dabbling’ to voters”

Christine O’Donnell, endorsed by the Tea Party movement, defeated the Republican candidate, nine-term U.S. Representative and former Delaware Governor Mike Castle, in the 2010 Republican primary.

Even O’Donnell was surprised by her success. Nonetheless, when these things happen, all negatives from a candidate’s past seem to have a way of surfacing faster than a methane gas bubble from beneath the ocean floor.

Her victory is a clear example of the quality of some candidates supported by the Tea Party movement. What is more frightening is that her supporters did not seem to mind that she was involved in activities like witchcraft.

The subject made hot news, and even hotter debate on both sides of the issue.

The content of the news that people want to read is a huge part of our system that I do not believe I will ever understand.

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