Saturday, May 3, 2008

News Organizations

There are two main focuses (foci?) of newsmedia organizations:

1) Be the first to report the news
2) Be the last to report the news

One of the ways they accomplish goal number one is by quoting an "expert" to present "analysis" to viewers and readers. Each organization finds their own "expert" and asks them for their analysis on their field of specialty. These analyses typically run from what the average person knows by the age of five (but they use bigger words), to repeating what a larger organization has already said (but in different words), to my favorite, reading shrunken cat skulls to predict the future of said field of specialty.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the field of energy. Newsmedia organization X gets expert Y, and the report proceeds along this format:

Newsmedia organization X: Well, it seems like gas prices are getting higher these days. How do you think Americans will take this shift upwards?

Expert Y: You know, there are a lot of people out there who are stretching their financial capacity to make ends meet already, and higher gas prices in real terms means more fiduciary difficulty for those households.

Newsmedia organization X: And what direction are these gas prices headed?

Expert Y: There's no question--prices are headed up. I expect us to see $200/barrel oil soon.

And so it continues.

Newsmedia organizations love to report on the same metrics the experts use. No individual American has any idea what $200/barrel means.

Average American: ummm, how many gallons in a barrel? and why are we measuring oil? uhhh, my car uses gas.

To accomplish their second goal, newsmedia organizations will spend the better part of the next several weeks after an event talking about said event, relentlessly pummeling the populace with their mindless drivel. In this same example, after an increase in gas prices, headlines will read along the following:

"Consumers brace for more pain at the pump"
"Gas prices squeeze consumer's wallets"
"Wallets are thinner as gas prices are thicker"
"Cheap gas nowhere in sight"
"$4 gas pops up across the valley"

Okay, so I made those up. Except the last one. Wait, you mean, that gas station I go by EVERY DAY that has those big numbers posted is selling gas? And the big numbers say 4? The only single person in the United States who considers that news is Bobby Joe from Backwoods, TN, who just picked up the newspaper that was used as packaging material from his shipment of camouflage duck blinds.

Bobby Joe: Wha...goll durn it Suzie! Feather tie me to my boots! It turns out that gas I've been a savin' is worth four dollars! I knewed I wuz right!

But yet, the newsmedia organizations insist on reporting this "news" day in and day out, in every paper, in every news broadcast, in every radio program. People. We. Get. It.