Re: My Peg, My Peg, My All


To recap: reporters are lazy, stupid and vain. We would be far better served, in most cases, by fact-centric journalism. Produce articles in bullet-point format, each bullet point a fact. Do absolutely zero analysis (saving us all that empty prose that makes it hard to find the one or two facts in each article).

If I were a PR flack I know exactly how I would manage the press: prepare pre-fab, article-like press releases that reporters can pretty much copy right into their articles. And they will! Ignore any questions asked by journalists because they are not looking for facts, they are just looking for quotes to bolster their manufactured "hook" -- repeat my party line endlessly (hey -- sooner or later the journalist may actually understand it). At its essence this is a strategy for turning the journalist into a direct pipe by which my message reaches the public. Everything the journalist "adds" is just noise (for the public and for the PR flack).

Have you noticed this is how Bush succeeds? And journalists complain about Ari Fleischer talking down to them. But of course he talks down to them, because he knows damn well they are lazy, stupid and vain, and everyday he pulls their little strings and they dance away -- go Ari!


Posted by: Magik Johnson | Link to this comment | 05- 1-03 1:14 AM
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Let me guess, you read the news every day. A lot of the "filler" in news stories exists because the story has to stand, more or less, on its own. If you've left the country for any period of time and been away from the news, no doubt you know it takes a while, even with all the "filler," to catch the narrative thread again.

And I don't know why you think bullet points would be less susceptible to bias and falsehood; if anything, they would give a more authorative, "factual" feel to items that are no more or less speculative than they are now.

But, yes, as I've pointed out on the blog, the Bush administration never overestimates anyone's intelligence.

Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05- 1-03 2:13 PM
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"the Bush administration never overestimates anyone's intelligence."

...and they just keep on winning...

My theory here is that talking down to journalists is a way to reach out directly to the public. Journalists' analysis is just noise. If you assume that the public is smart, then turning the press into a mere conduit is very sensible. If you assume that the public is stupid, then it's more reasonable to prefer that journalists lard every article with lots of "analysis".

And, Ogged, let's be real here. I'm not talking about the back page filler. I'm talking about the fluff "analysis" up front, in the middle, and even padding the back page filler, that makes it hard to find out what the journalist is actually claiming the facts to be. I agree with you that the back story is hard to avoid, although with the Web this is eminently solvable (and no one has bother to address this yet). The problem is the obscuring of the new facts upon which the analytical fluff is based.

If you're nice I'll provide you a sophisticated sociological exegesis of some future article to illustrate.

Posted by: Magik Johnson | Link to this comment | 05- 1-03 11:49 PM
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