Showing posts with label The media (sigh). Show all posts
Showing posts with label The media (sigh). Show all posts

Aug 26, 2017

Newspapers from Pig Food

The main trouble with the goddam mass media these days is that cruddy ink they use, made out of soybeans. When you use a page of sooty tofu to polish your windows, it leaves a bunch of goddam smudges.

In my day we knew how to make newspapers with real ink. Useful newspapers. Our readers may have been misinformed, had their intelligence insulted, and been subjected to the you-live-wrong diatribes of the lifestyle writers, but they at least had clean windows.

Feb 15, 2016

Drip, Drip, Drip

A friend once asked me if I could win an election for a regional candidate who wasn't well-known or particularly popular. I said, "Of course not.

"But what I can do, given enough time and money, is create a political climate that gives him a very good chance to win."

The important term is "political climate."  Fish swim in water. Birds fly in air space. Politicians and their political movements flourish when immersed in a favorable  stew of public attitude; that ragout is itself a mix of fashionable beliefs, ideas, misconceptions and general thinking which may or may not be within fifty parsecs of reality.

The base political climate of a country is largely a creation of its information sources, the "news." The media themselves are a mishmash of all that is good, the destruction of Richard Nixon, for instance. Or evil, perhaps exemplified by the destruction of Robert Bork.

Leading us to this morning's news, in the category of Wog-Bombing.  Now, "everyone knows" that when swarthy widows and orphans get bombed, Suspect No. 1 is Uncle Sam, the aspiring imperialist master  of all under Heaven.

The AP,  perhaps unintentionally and as a result of simple editorial ineptness, falls into the pit in its report of bad bombing in Syria. In a lead story it requires readers to endure five full paragraphs of detailed horror description,  geography, and an explanation that Doctors With Borders is sometimes called MSF.

Than and only then does AP reveal the first "W" of basic reporting: "Who?"

Turns out it was the Russians. At least the Brits say it was Putin's air force.

As most any readership study of the past fifty years will report, by the sixth paragraph of any new story readers will have flocked away by massive percentages and turned to the comics or the scores. And those people will have no reason not to believe the United States bombed the hospitals, maybe on purpose because, y'know, like, that's what Uncle  does.


Not to let Reuters off then hook while I'm chastising the wire service which still helps feed me.  The Brit version of AP leads today with a piece on the replacement for Justice Scalia: "Republicans Gear Up for Supreme Court Battle after Scalia's Death," leaving readers to figure out for themselves that the opposite is also true and just as newsworthy. Democrats are also in gear.

Thus a fellow can be forgiven for the big thought that day-in and day-out, decade after decade, a water drip at a time, the political climate becomes a closed-circuit sewer

Jul 6, 2015

The Art of the Lede

While not totally reflective of the story, this AP lede is the best I've seen in several days of media Odes on the Grecian Burn.

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) -- Greece is at the last chance saloon, thirsty and out of credit. Next stop could be the badlands of euro exit.

Well done, David McHugh.

Dec 24, 2014

Proving that low-cap magazines are also dangerous

I tend to doubt the chief said this, but who knows? Anyway, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch alerts its readers to the next big thing in guns-that-ought-to-be-illegal:

He (the local police chief) also said the 9 mm gun found on the suspect had five rounds in the chamber and one round in the magazine. He also said the gun was "defaced."

Somewhere in the nation's Capital someone is drafting a new law to forbid private ownership of high-capacity chambers.

Eh, Representative Pelosi?  Eh Senators Schumer and  Warren? Those things can be even more lethal than shoulder thingies that go up.

Sep 23, 2014

Thanks a lot, Charlo, and fork you, too

Eventually I got around to reading the Reason take on Charlo Greene's  "F--- it. I quit"  skit and even scanned a few dozen reader comments.  Disheartening.

Of course television journalists aren't. They get paid to draw audiences to commercials for gunk to make your underarms smell better. That makes them  shills. But they pretend to be journalists, and most of the public goes along with the gag. They have contracts with their stations to maintain that pretense. Part of the ruse is to appear objective. A big part is promising not to say
"f--k" on camera.

Charlo broke her contract and became an instant "libertarian" hero -- if the bulk of  the Reason comments is any guide --  because she vulgarly pimped  a personal political opinion on her employer's time, employer' property, employer's  spectrum, and likely as not wearing her employer's clothing.

It was about pot, of course, and it's irrelevant that her personal opinion and (most of) ours are identical.  The war on some drugs is illogical, expensive, stupidly waged, and very often downright cruel and immoral. (Hey, toss a grenade trew that there door Rambo; there probably ain't no little girl sleeping in da crib.)

The remnants of journalistic integrity need to be preserved. When a reporter outs a crooked or stupid or venal politician, we should be moved to an initial presumption of accuracy. When she reports a failed policy we should be able to assume that something needs quite a little more thought.

That happens only when the profession creates its own reputation for reportorial virtue, and that is the opposite of attention-whoring.

Why yes, Charlo, I do mean you.

May 13, 2014

A post to die by

You might as well read it; it's as good a way as any to while away your last moments on tortured Earth, a planet which is, like you, perishing from climate change.

As an added advantage, assuming a Hereafter exits and is blessed with a mass media component, you'll be better prepared to become a media critic in Heaven.

Our text comes from Radio Iowa:

"The looming impacts of climate change on the State of Iowa was the subject of a meeting in Des Moines today."*

That is the lede, the key fact the reporter and editor think you should know.  Of course we all agree with the assumptions it capsulizes:

--Climate change is happening with the unstated subtext that it is your fault and mine.

--Climate change will have an "impact," a much more serious thing than a simple "effect."

--The impact is "looming," again a word of sufficient drama to make us all fall to our knees in repentance for not driving a Volt and subsisting on dandelion greens and  stewed cottonwood bark.


The body of the piece is somewhat cute in the same sense that a kitty tangled in Aunt Priscilla's yarn is cute. The analogy breaks down, however, with the realization that little pussy is not contorting in lust for camera, microphone, and above-the-fold headline attention. She is just having fun or, perhaps, trying to  get free.

The story might not have impacted my attention in such a rilly awesome manner if it had stuck with the usual horrific predictions settled scientific facts that logically follow your earth-hating decision to use a reading light this evening. Flooded cities. Continental droughts. Displaced polar bears. Al Gore gasping for a final breath from the unburned hydrocarbons emitted by everything except, of course, his private jets.

But Iowa is not to be constrained by those banalities. I mean, Hell, even the New York Times and Jerry Brown know all about that.

Instead we found some experts with a new take on how you are about to die. Mosquitoes. Vast billions more mosquitoes, bigger, meaner, more dangerous, and loaded with virulent new poisons for which even Merck and Eli Lily have no antidote.

So take heed. Strip off your Spandex and send your power-hungry computer off to a certified recycling center. Make new clothes from sustainable resources, hemp fiber and slabs of birch bark. Gather your tribe and find a remote valley where you can live in harmony with nature on the veggies of the forest and -- absent a PETA chapter nearby -- slugs and snails and lightly boiled mosquitos.

*EDIT: I didn't even notice Radio Iowa reporting the  the "impactS  ...  was." It were not a typo by me.


Apr 28, 2014

April comes like an idiot, babbling ...

It has been a tough month on the racial front. Bundy allows as how Jews are this and that. The inarticulate old guy who owns a basketball team announces blacks are that and this. Television goes bananas, and "social media" wets down its share of the spectrum.

It seems to me we're about halfway to symmetry on the bigotry front so far in this episode. If someone would hunt up a network news crew and hurl a few ignorant slurs at Hispanics and another sling some generalized abuse at us white guys, I would be content. It would be just another saga of racially fused and made-for-teevee outrage, but at least even-handed in real time and therefore -- somehow -- less objectionable. If he had known how to write Karl Popper might have expressed it as, "When everyone is is a lunatic, then no one is."

Mark Twain: "Man is a sorry piece of work."


One ray of hope occurred in the silly mess of April. Government was again reminded that a number of Americans get irritated when it deploys platoons of slightly upgraded  mall ninjas, equipped like Seal Team Six, in case it decides to shoot down an American citizen and his family over an alleged civil infraction.

There was a little pleasure there, too, when the button-down BLM administrators noticed that some of the citizens, not necessarily limited to the certifiables among them, were in a mood to react in kind to a federal "shoot" order. It was literary pleasure. I don't think I've ever witnessed government's professional "communicators"  whip up the standard "only to preserve public safety" news releases so quickly. You admire professionalism under pressure no matter what the source.

It up to us to gently remind our brothers and sisters that a deeper motivation was to head off rude historical allusions to Ruby Ridge and the dead mother there, Waco and the dead kids there.


H/T to Edna St.Vincent Millay for the subject line

Apr 20, 2014

Resurrection Day, 2014

Religious feast days can be difficult for non-celebrants, particularly apostates living among the faithful. Even hard-logic skeptics, however, can surely find room for a sliver of poetry, a sense of renewal.


Without ambition to play St. Francis, I have nevertheless created a local congregation of happier birds. It happened this way:

For three or fours years a simple auto tow-bar lived in the large-project pile. The intent, finally fulfilled on Wednesday,  was to bolt on a spike-studded timber, creating a tractor-drawn groomer for the gravel lane which might also serve as a dethatcher for the unruly grass and weeds which make up the Camp Jiggleview grounds. It works better than expected.

The was no aim to fatten the the robins, but that unintended consequence occurred, Oh those lovely little worms and grubs and other tasties, all freshly exposed for easy hunting. The tweets are deafening but wasted, of course, on a no-account man.


Part of my Easter pleasure has for years been dinner with the incomparable C's. Sometimes I contribute wine, sometimes the regionally famous baked beans a la Jiggleview. This is a bean year, speaking of the Boston Marathon.

May it pass without new drama, although we can depend on our electric media to resurrect every tear, every fear, every snippet of 2013 Oh-My-God! tape.

In the 1980s it occurred to all sentient humans that people running down the street for hours had decidedly limited news value and entertainment potential.

The same thought penetrated teevee producers' skulls about 20 years later. As much as they may personally abhor violence, it is not lost on them than a bomb here and there does wonders for the Neilsons.


Happy Easter, Friends.

Apr 7, 2014


CBS teevee reminds me this morning that  a golf tournament happens later this week. This excites me because it could easily produce news of sufficient drama and significance to push the hide-and-seek for a Malaya airplane off Page One.

It would help this national media  rebalance if professional feminists, strangely silent this Master's season, would tune up their shriek cords and track down some network news crews.  It could be they are still sedated by recent pro-diversity decisions in Augusta, but certainly there's something still bitchworthy, maybe a lack of unisex locker rooms or something like that, Anyway,  without socio-cultural drama, all that really happens down there is a golf game with muted baritone announcers saying, "Let's go to 17."

One other possibility exists, though I may have to orchestrate the national outrage all by myself. CBS chose to hustle the tournament today with a darling feature on some  pre-pubes playing the course, including a lovely 11-year-old Chinese -American lass who "drives 163 yards ... you will hear more of her."

That's sad in and of itself, but another factoid adds to it. This youngster was handed her first mashie at age six and ordered, or encouraged, to practice golf, and if that doesn't constitute actionable child abuse, I don't know what does.

Mar 21, 2014

Thirty Seconds More than Tokyo

Headline: AP Stylebook Takes a Dive; Facebook Furor Ensues

The Stylebook, one of America's traditional bulwarks against flabby couch-potato language, is no longer eating its peas. It decrees that "over" and "more than" may be used synonymously when reporting numerical values.

For this travesty it mounts a Twinkie defense: "We  can't fight a trend." It is but a matter of time before AP sanctions "over" and "more than" as all-purpose synonyms.

Somwhere, More Than the Rainbow, starring Li'l Debbie Garland.

More than my dead body.

Feb 26, 2014

Singing to the dog

A man with a shelf of books and a curious mind is never bored. Except maybe sometimes, rarely, he might be something like bored.

I blame it on the re-vortexing of the polarity.  Zero, below zero, big wind, very big wind for the impending week.

SAD? No, I don't accept SAD except as an excuse for the drug companies to sell more happy pills.

Cabin fever? No. The vehicles are running fine. The lane  is clear enough. There's cash in the wallet and places where I would find a welcome.

No interest, So I'll just go ahead and use the dork word. Enervated. I may be enervated.

Possibly New Dog Libby is too. She always comes around for a comprehensive  ear-scratch every hour or so. Lately it's more like every ten minutes, and I actually caught her staring out at our stray cat without emitting her death-threat growl between 70-decibel barks.

Just now she waddled over to the computer chair, stuck her head firmly on my lap, and made intense eye contact. You either understand that lab-eyes look or you don't. I do, so I made a special fuss. The ears, of course, then back and belly, then a collar check while I wiped off that tiny dab of eye drool.

She's put on some winter bulk. I decided the strap could use a little more slack.

Fumble with the adjusting slide. Drop your hands in disgust because  you just heard yourself going,

"bah-dah bamba just a silly millimeter longer."

At least that led to enervation attenuation because it yielded a  Big Thought, a Universal Truth:  Exposure to television at a young age makes you weird forever. 

Feb 13, 2014

Eeeek. A bullet!

I understand principals' need to change into Depends at the very thought of  anything more weapon-like than a blunt Crayola.  If "something happens" they're going to get sued, maybe fired and faced with the need to find real jobs.

So I suppose the lockdown at a nearby junior high is just one of the sillinesses of the times, odiously called the "new normal."

I preferred the old normal. A Terry Stop of any 10 guys in my 7th grade room at Pleasant Valley probably would have turned up at least a dozen loose rounds of .22, fuzzy from riding in denim pockets.  But the school rulers never bothered to look.  Only if you took them out for inspection could you get in trouble.

The saintly Mrs.Minor: "James, put that back in your pocket and open your Warriner's. Don't make me tell you again."  Yeah, I was a repeat offender.


Aside to our crack KUOO. You probably meant "cartridge" rather than "bullet." But what the Hell. It's only radio, and theyr'e both icky and fearsome, huh?

Feb 12, 2014

The media grinds it out

We need to make allowances for English commentary on firearms.  After all, they are well into the third generation of their official eeeekagun stance. Would you ask your great grandpa to analyze this week's Billboard Hot Rock Top 40?

Nevertheless. Reuters is competing for a most-errors-per-line award in story on slow sales of modified AR15-types in New York.

--The two main modifications to the AR 15 rifles are the lack of a muzzle brake, which controls the rapid fire of bullets,  Full fail, there, Fleet Street, and a silly one at that. It tends to help control felt recoil and muzzle jump. And you probably don't really mean "rapid fire of bullets"  anyway. You're groping for the term "rate of fire," I suppose.

--and a flash hider, or suppressor, which limits the flash of light coming out of the barrel, Kielbasa said. The suppressor allowed night-time shooters to obscure their location by masking the "flash" of light.  

A couple of problems there, Cyril. You get a little slack on the use of "suppressor" because in comman usage it is sometimes used to designate the flash hider. Just as often it is a synonym for "silencer."  The greater sin is reporting its purpose to be obscuring the location of the rifle. It hangs out there mostly to shield the shooter's eye from a bright flash which might, at night, disrupt his subsequent-shot aim.

By the way, the Mr. Kielbasa quoted is the gun shop owner in New York. He said new state laws regulating rifle cosmetics might force him to quit selling them altogether,  That would a vurst-case scenario.

Feb 8, 2014

If Vanita Nair proposes to me,

I'm afraid I shall have to decline. Too bad. She's a beautiful woman and makes a good buck.

Furthermore, if I should by chance feel an urge to ogle this South Asian knockout raised in Texas, I shall do so with the sound muted and captioning off.

On her CBS morning news gig today, she listened intently to a guy predicting the death of the American shopping mall and said:

"That breaks my heart. When I moved to Manhattan I really missed the "mall experience'."

Suggesting that any delights she might offer would be more than offset by conversational limitations.

Feb 5, 2014

...And, By The Way and FWIW, The NRA Gives Him an "F"

I woke up a few minutes ago with that acute depression that overcomes a journalist when he suddenly realizes he missed the lede. Glance back at the previous post making fun of retiring congressslug Bob Andrews who went zero-for-646 over 23 years.

Now, 23 years is 8,395 days. Bob's proposed 646 new laws over that span represents an ambition to create one new federal law every 12.995 days. Cut the guy some slack, figure he took a Sunday or two off to get together with his homies to watch the ponies run at Meadowlands, and round that up to 14 days.

The meaning is that every other Monday morning you would need to check the Congressional Record carefully for a new Bob-dictate detailing what you must do, or not do, on pain of federal civil or criminal prosecution.

Suppose  he had been successful. Imagine how the Washington Post would have  praised him; the most "effective"  legislator in the nation's history.

And the other 534 would be green with envy, racing like Man-O-War to catch up.

Jan 30, 2014

Don't bury the lede

Okay. I won't:

Yahoo News needs a wire editor who isn't smoking crack on duty.


Home base for YN is here, and it has been a bookmark on my Mac for years.

This morning, the news lineup there begins with a hit piece on Obama by YN's own Matt Bai.

Next, a Daily Beast hit piece on Ted Cruz.

Then a nigh incomprehensible  satire (?) by Ann Coulter, followed by a MatchCom ad dressed up as a news headline, then another D. Beast thumbsucker on pot laws.

A couple of similar items later you get to the first actual news report which, this morning, is offered in Spanish.  And that is probably the first thing the reading masses will catch as a probable journalism screwup.


I speak now of a certain period of time, beginning roughly in the 1880s and ending  about the time the national information system was captured by vidicons imaging beautiful coifs yammering happy talk on the six-o'clock news.

In those days, every daily newspaper bigger than the Bloomington Pantograph employed a wire editor, usually a crusty old reporter too far gone to be of much use on a beat but still possessed of the single  most important thing in journalism: news judgement.

He monitored the old 66 words-per-minute Teletypes*, ripping copy, spiking** most of it, selecting the best and most relevant stories for his readers.  These he massaged in several ways and passed on to the senior editors at the "desk."

The better ones came to work sober and didn't reach for the jug of Jim Beam hidden in the file drawer on the right-hand side of their two-pedestal desk at least until the presses were rolling with the bulldog edition.

The final product was a paper which, whatever its faults of emphasis, story placement, and editorial slant, gave its readers a concise and (more-or-less) dependable  view of changes in the world and the nation since the previous day's editions.

Not even the worst of the damned Hearst rags would have gone to press with the above-mentioned Yahoo cesspool on Page One.


There are still men and women alive who practiced journalism with an almost religious belief in the sanctity of the mission. That's why you see so many of us trudging around with sad basset -hound eyes, fighting the urge to reach down for our hidden flask of Jim Beam.



*Through the WW2/Korea era there were three fierce competitors based in the U.S.  The Associated Press (AP) was the unquestioned leader, followed by United Press  (UP)  and International News Service (INS). INS sold itself to UP, creating United Press International (UPI) which went broke in the 1980s and survives today mostly as an internet logo, a feature service at best.

**Spiking: Unwanted wire copy was slammed on to the spike in case it might be needed later.

If some guy you met in a bar claimed to be a wire editor and could not display several puncture-wound scars on his palms, he was lying to you.

Jan 15, 2014

Wet your kangaroo down, Sport.

Mad dogs and Englishmen founded Australia and  taught it everything it knows. So the Melbourne Aussies  (probably with great enthusiasm from their tourist bureau) decided to have a big tennis tournament in January, the depth of summer down there.

Givens: Tennis is a hot sport. Melbourne is a hot town in January -- about the same equatorial displacement as St. Louis. People who schedule made-for-teevee tennis extravaganzas should understand those things. So should  the players and spectators.

And, to get to the point,  you would expect the same from world famous reporting heads in the electric teevee news industry. You would be disappointed.  They are so agog with Melbourne weather that they're making it about the second or third lede on their programs about all the vital news this morning.

If it weren't for Justin Bieber getting busted for throwing eggs, Melbourne would be first or second on the lineup.

Jan 13, 2014

Flash. President to Sue Weight Watchers

The get-skinny company is out with an arresting teevee commercial. An aww-too-cute little girl skips about, chanting that when she grows up she just wants to "float around in her pink bubble"  and wave her "magic wand to make rainbows fall from the skies." 

A narrator intones, "...remember when anything was possible? ... it still is."

Obama is furious and has directed Eric Holder to sue Weight Watchers for violating the copyright on his 2008 campaign message.

Dec 30, 2013

Just in case you missed it

To ABC's credit, it wasn't this morning's lede story, but it was sufficiently vital to be the pre-commercial Big Teaser at  xx:41:30 on the electric Good Morning America.

Patrick Swayze's widow has a "new love in her life."

But first...

The duck dork allows as how "they may have fired me but God didn't fire me." Voiced plus 80 per cent-screen text. The producer apparently presumes enough viewers who give a dynastic s--t  can read.

Dec 12, 2013

Duelling news

I keep trying to save my friend's soul. He +tries+ to be a good anti-statist, but always get hung up on guns, and I think in his heart of hearts he's believes they  should be confiscated and converted to manhole covers. My latest effort, below,  is  generated by the Exeter, Rhode Island, gun squabble, and the congressional spat over what to do about plastic guns.

Personally, I trace part of the problem to the ready availability of The New York Times in his region. A copy can be purchased every day in undetectable cash deals, no permit required, no cooling-off period, no age limit, no restrictions on concealed -carry or  even brandishing. 


I suppose your  "Exeter Swamp Yankees" and my Iowa Hog Lot Wranglers share a passion other than oiling and stroking our barrels as we contemplate the the pleasure of our next mass murder.

I refer, of course, to our well-known study of epistemology and our curiosity about why, to certain groups, knowledge becomes valid by virtue of publication in the New York Times.

Why, just the other day my epistemology advisor, Melvin "Pigs" Dykstra, blew his nose on his sleeve and announced that he had been reading BusinessWeek lately and found (in his own quaint words), "By golly, guys, blamed if I ain't startin' to think that there's some other stuff to read and a lot of it ain't wrote by pointy headed interlecturals who genufuct or however you call it to that picture of Ol' Abe Rosenthal on their desks."

Here's what I think he was referring to:

A sample about "undetectable" guns: We’ve been down this road before. In the late 1980s, gun-control advocates tried to ban an Austrian-made Glock that was fabricated mostly from industrial-strength plastic and demonized as a weapon that would defy airport security. Congress held hearings and then passed the original undetectable gun ban. Strangely, though, the Federal Aviation Administration concluded that the Glock wasn’t really a threat at all. If screening personnel paid attention, they could detect the gun-shaped piece of plastic, not to mention the bullets needed to make the Glock lethal, the FAA said. “That was a big ‘oops’ moment,” Richard Aborn, a former president of Handgun Control, now known as the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, once told me. “We made the classic mistake of failing to do our homework.”

And about self-willed guns killing  people: 

Apart from politics, dispassionate observers must question the simplistic liberal slogan that more guns equals more crime. The U.S. has seen a two-decade period during which private gun ownership has continued to soar (some 300 million firearms are now in civilian hands), while crime has diminished.


Mel's opinion got back to the Democrat who lives in his county. He flicked the dust off his Hillary button and yelled that Business Week is just another one of those right-wing tea-party rags owned by Rush Limbaugh and edited by the National Rifle Association.

That made Mel maddern a wet hen, but he calmed himself and quietly corrected the button man. He allowed as how he thought the magazine belongs to (former) Mayor Whatzizname Bloomberg who started up Mayor's Against Illegal Guns.  And who, he might have added, openly and blatantly reads (and even approvingly quotes)  The New York Times.

As an aside, I need to note that Bloomie usually doesn't quote the Times about free-for-all Terry Stops of New York City citizens guilty of EWBBB, that is, Existing While Being Black or Brown.