Thursday, March 13, 2008

"news" vs. panic and ratings

From Reason, a brief interview with Drew Curtis and an overview of his new book...

Drew Curtis, 34, is the editor of the hugely popular (and hugely funny) news aggregator and community website, which focuses on the curious, the dubious, and the bizarre. He is also the author of the recently released book It’s Not News, It’s Fark: How Mass Media Tries to Pass Off Crap As News (Gotham).

Nice sub-title! I heard Laura Ingraham talking about an example of this on her program today: the prurient details of the Spitzer affair-- all in the name of "news".

We asked him to list three of the stupid­est media-induced panics in recent memory:

1. Fogies on Drugs: “A study came out that said that drug use amongst senior citizens recently skyrocketed. And it’s true, it has. But the media guys were implying that everybody at these senior citizens’ homes had suddenly picked up a crack pipe. It turns out those guys were giant hippies and were casual users all their lives—they’re just getting old.”

2. Bird Flu Panic: “I’m not saying that you shouldn’t keep an eye on bird flu, but there hasn’t been a single documented case here yet. To catch it, you have to be living in a Third World country with horrible medical care in a house that you share with chickens. And you have to roll around in the chicken crap all day long. You can’t transfer it to somebody else. The number of column inches given to this is just outrageous.”

3. The Gumball Menace: “Three aldermen in Dover, New Jersey, decided to go around to check every gumball machine in town to make sure the terrorists hadn’t tampered with them. It goes back to the whole ‘use your national security dollars or lose ’em’ problem. Basically they just have to make up stuff to do.”

It's funny that we laugh so much at stuff like "News of the Weird". But "news" like Curtis skewers is treated seriously...


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home