Thursday, January 29, 2009

Why most of the "News" Sucks, most of the time.

Because newspapers are just emerging from chasing after eyeballs. And people always do what is easiest for them to do. So most of the news hole is filled with rewrites from PR releases and the various wire services. It worked when newspapers were the cheapest , fastest eyeball catchers on the planet. Now there are cheaper, faster eyeball catchers on the Internets.

Recently I've been focused on three things: The Google-Mart Economy here. Xerox here. But my home base is Print. Right here. I spent 37 years either making or selling Print. I've always been a Print Evangelist. Back in the day, my favorite professional partners and clients, then teaching colleagues, undergraduate students were designers and printers. So, this blog is a nice place to call home. Plus I actually have a lot of experience in this world.

Over at the Xerox blog, I recently posted a bit about how lame the media is on understanding what Xerox does. The more I followed the more I understood why most "news" sucks, most of the time.

Here's a slightly re-edited excerpt of what I said over there.
There are two kinds of news.

One is seeing what is happening in the real world. Then crafting a story about it.

The other is translating documents to craft the story we want to tell our viewers.
As long as a newspaper can keep straight which one they are doing, this works out ok. The problem is when people describe rewrites of PR releases or grabbing the story du jour from the day's blablabla as "news". So much bullshit is generated that we'll never figure out what to do next.

Meanwhile, when newspapers were the best eyeball catchers in the non broadcast world, it didn't really matter. But nowadays, every kid over the age of about 15, can separate out the authentic from the bullshit.

So, the real story is that most of the "news" most of the time always sucked. The real difference is that selling eyeballs is a really stupid business and the audience is too smart to not notice. So..they vote with their dollars.

Who is going to spend scarce attention time on bullshit, unless you want a good laugh or at least a smile? Fear has been the most reliable way to catch eyeballs in the past. But I think NoDrama Obama may change that for good. And if not him, then we'll just watch the marketplace do what it does so well.

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