We’re “your” trustworthy news source, even though we’re all owned by six corporations or billionaires with political agendas.
The “news” has loomed large in The News–a classic self-referential loop in which the media itself becomes its own content. While the controversy over what constitutes “fake news” and “real news” has itself become “the news,” the cold reality is all “news,” “real” or otherwise, is content-free.
The “news” is so devoid of content that a simple software program could assemble a semi-random daily selection of headlines, scrolling banners, and radio/TV “news” reports from a pool of typical “news” stories and insert a bit of context (local highways that are congested, rough neighborhoods where shootings occur, names of local authorities, etc.), and the consumer of “news” would be hard-pressed to tell the difference between the randomly generated “news” and the “real news.”
Here’s a taste of the Random Content-Free News Generator Application that would produce “news” that was virtually indistinguishable from the “real” news.
Traffic is backed up near the (insert the usual congestion point) on the I-XX (local Interstate/highway). (TV/video: show randomly selected video clip of slow-moving traffic).
A serious accident occurred on I-XX (TV newscasters look somber if the wreck resulted in fatalities.)
Local Authorities held a news conference to Say What People Want to Hear about (insert hot-button topic): this concern is being addressed by authorities. We’ve got top people working on this–top people. (Newscasters look serious.)
A horrific terrorist attack occurred somewhere in the world–insert semi-randomly selected city, with preference given to Mideast and Central Asian war zones and Western capitals.
Bad weather of some kind is threatening us, or could threaten us shortly. (Insert video clip of flooding, heavy rain, or scorching heat in desert climes, etc.)
Sports celebrity XYZ apologizes for (choose one or more: spousal abuse, gambling, serial infidelity, public drunkenness, loutish treatment of adoring fans, etc.) while his wife/family/attorney hover in the background.
Coach XYZ explains why the team lost: the other team made some key plays, we lost focus, our guys/gals gave it their all, but we see some areas of improvement we’re going to work on, etc.
The latest food fad taking the hipster ‘hoods by storm is (combine traditional ingredient with an Asian or Indian flavor: kim-chee-flavored watermelon, etc.)
Somebody graduated (heart-warming story that gives newscasters a chance to smile): insert video of cute kindergartners collecting their diplomas, Grandmother in cap and gown, etc. (An over-credentialed society loves to see graduations, especially of kids, elders and underdogs–supporting the narrative that our meritocracy thrives on piling up credentials.)
Good news on the economy: insert manipulated official statistic on declining unemployment, higher median wages, rising home values, etc. Alternative report: insert story of an underdog taking ownership of a house for the first time, new food truck serving customers, etc.
You don’t see this every day: insert YouTube clip of person being struck by lightning but miraculously walking away, truck overturning on a highway, spilling huge steel girders, etc.
More evidence surfaces that Russia Did Something Bad to Us (insert random clip of Putin, Russian missiles, etc.)
Self-congratulatory advertorial: We’re doing a great job here, folks, of investigating what needs to be investigated and reporting what needs to be reported, etc. Count on us for “real news.” We’re “your” trustworthy news source, even though we’re all owned by six corporations or billionaires with political agendas: