American Elephants

Language, Talking Points, and the Vanishing Profession of Journalism by The Elephant's Child

Selected language and preferred narratives seem to be going off into all directions. Some of it is quite deliberate, as Democrats in mass speak in focus-tested talking points. This is proven by the vast numbers of Democrats who emerge on a given day—all saying the exact same thing in the exact same words. The goal seems to be controlling the narrative of the day, and thus commanding the news cycle and, hopefully, the thoughts in the heads of Americans. Orwell would understand.

The ordinary news cycle seems to be all fouled-up as well. Hurricane Irma is the strongest hurricane ever in the history of the west, no, there have been regularly very damaging hurricanes and many of them. Irma has been downgraded to a Category 4.  José has been upgraded to a Category 4. The plots they are expected to follow change regularly. There are official websites with official numbers, but everybody seems to be using some alternates.

I may exaggerate a little, but it suffices as a description of the ordinary news. There’s Republican news and Democrat news with variances,and nuances, lots of nuances.  Many people have remarked that they don’t believe any major news sources and simply depend on a few individuals they trust. This is a remarkable situation, and I cannot remember any time when the media was so mistrusted, and held in so much contempt. It’s a very uncomfortable circumstance. Traditionally, the media was supposed to be the watchdog of the three branches of government, so that when the politics became too apparent, the truth would prevail. “Draining the swamp” as it were.

The visual media has made reporting a glamorous profession, and the pretty or handsome ones  become celebrities of a sort, like movie people — their names and faces are known. I’m not sure of the diagnosis — are there too many reporters chasing the same stories, is this a failure of the journalism schools, poorly educated reporters, or has everyone just become far too political? Journalism has always been political going back as far as  “Remember the Maine” and the Spanish American War, but the present case seems different.

Time will tell, and there are a great many curious cases to be fully explained. I did read that CNN has finally given up on the Russia connection.


2 Comments so far
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I think the distinction for the media is the mass bias in the mainstream media. Back in 1780 there was a national media, consisting of many dueling newspapers going at it from one,two, three, or more sides in almost every city or large town. They did not spout the same words. In fact it appears that each newspaper had its own individual voice. Now we have one mainstream media all talking almost identical stories, often with identical words. This is not a free press that the founders experienced and envisioned in the first amendment. They would have been appalled at reports essentially reading the same stories released by different groups and never scrounging around for a different take from another source.

The “free” press has turned into a press “free” of originality, effort, error checking, and asking real questions/


Comment by philohippous

I suspect that too much of “the news” is just coming from
Twitter —it’s all what he said and she said, but it is just one person’s (probably ill-informed opinion) and is not what we would normally call “news.” And you’re right. They state what they assume to be facts, but don’t do even the most basic research to check. Hence all the columns about Irma being the greatest, biggest, while some of the more experienced journalists mention Galveston in 1900, and Andrew, and Katrina and distinguish between wind and storm surge. I think more and more people are noticing.


Comment by The Elephant's Child

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