Crawl Across the Ocean

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Media Failure Two-Step

Writing this blog has made me pay more attention to the media than I used to and I've started to notice a pattern; a pattern which I call the media failure two-step. Don't worry, this dance is quite easy to pick up. As a general rule it goes something like this:

Step 1) Cause something (bad) to happen through your reporting.
Step 2) Report on this (bad) thing from the perspective of an innocent bystander.
And then you just repeat indefinitely.

Got it? Need an example? No problem, start with the basic step.

Step 1. Write 10 columns/posts about the latest poll results
Step 2. Write a column/post complaining about how the media has nothing but 'horserace' coverage

Now admittedly, this is a pretty simple dance, what makes it fun is coming up with variations and mixing them in. Try this one:

Step 1: Write a bunch of mindless partisan rants
Step 2: Complain about the low tone of debate

OK, that was another easy one, How about something a little trickier:

Step 1: Constantly criticize all politicians as selfish pigs
Step 2: Wonder why there are so few good people going into politics these days.

See, the possibilities are endless. Changing up the footwork slightly, there are a whole series of informational steps to explore, in which you pause on the first step and simply do nothing before proceeding straight to the second step. For a good example of this, see the two posts I read which triggered this post: these ones from moebiusstripper at Tall, Dark and Mysterious. While apparently not a fan of the dance, he identifies it clearly, quoting Angus Reid as saying about the proposed STV electoral system for B.C.,
"There hasn't been enough media coverage to create a buzz, and even people looking for information might not find enough to make an informed decision."

and noting,
"One wonders if the journalists who find these things out just nod sadly - hmm, not enough media coverage. Crying shame, that, but not much WE can do - and then ferret out another poll about how little the unwashed masses, with their lack of information and access to media coverage, know about stuff."

I invite readers to offer up their own suggestions for variations of the media failure two-step. Please avoid suggestions which involve three steps as these will be covered in a later post on the media failure waltz.*

* This is a joke, media-failure scenarios suited to other dances are more than welcome, although suggestions for the Tango will be ignored unless submitted twice.

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  • your ballroom dancing analogies are quite astute... does this suggest a secret past?

    By Blogger ainge lotusland, at 9:39 PM  

  • maybe.

    but let's just say I'm a better blogger than dancer - and that's true pretty much no matter what you think of this blog ...

    By Blogger Declan, at 9:20 AM  

  • Congrats -- you've been noted by Atrios! And hence by me!
    You could apply this theory to just about any media frenzy lately, from the pop-eyed bride to the endless speculation about the federal non-confidence motion. The exceptions are, I think, the Globe and Mail, and CBC news. They aren't entirely immune, of course, but they do seen to have a few editors actually thinking about what news is important for Canadians, and then sending their reporters out to find it, rather than pinballing mindlessly from story to story.

    By Blogger Cathie from Canada, at 6:24 AM  

  • Oops - it was Avedon, not Atrios, but it was still on Eschaton, so the previous congratulations still apply.

    By Blogger Cathie from Canada, at 6:29 AM  

  • OT: i wanted to tell you that i really like the design of your blog!

    By Blogger Norn Cutson, at 7:25 AM  

  • All right, here we go:

    1) We all link to each others' blogs.
    2) We subsequently write blog articles on the sudden flurry of bloggers linking to each other.

    And, taking it one step further,

    3) We then write critical blog articles on the self-congratulatory, self-referential nature of recursively-linking bloggers.

    OK, now my brain hurts.

    By Blogger CC, at 1:25 PM  

  • cathie - True, some media are worse offenders than others. The CBC in B.C. has been notable for being the only outlet making a serious effort to explain the STV system, and the Globe just finished a 4 part editorial series on proportional representation which - while falling prey to some poor a priori writing (IMO) - was better and more in depth than the vast majority of what you see on the topic.

    As for this Avedon character, I'm not sure who they think they are messing up the y axis scale on my traffic charts :) (now if they could mess up the x axis *that* would be impressive)

    (sorry Ainge, I had to say something - at least it's in the comments, not a post in itself)

    n69n: Thanks!

    CC - good one, I suggest you call it the 'GeegollyBlog's Linkwalk' and set it to music...

    By Blogger Declan, at 3:54 PM  

  • there was an excellent sketch on mr show (the "on-the-spot news" sketch in episode 310) about this phenomenon, where reporters are so desperate for a scoop that they start committing crimes and attacking each other, just to be "first at the scene" of the crime.

    By Blogger stAllio!, at 9:16 AM  

  • stallio! - sounds like a good sketch. Hopefully it doesn't turn into one of those life imitates art type deals. Seems like a lot of what we see these days as reality was the stuff of satire not too long ago (e.g. Jeff Gannon).

    By Blogger Declan, at 10:21 PM  

  • Eschaton?
    I'm jealous. Congrats on that Declan. That can't be easy.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:06 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Damoms, at 11:45 PM  

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