Information Machines

Author: Ben H. Bagdikian


by PaulHoule   2020-10-15
It is usually not called "news".

"News" is a ghetto of crap that's designed to stoke fear and hate, control your mind, etc. It was always that way, it is just the phenomenon has intensified and the human face has melted away.

Here's the best quick heuristic I can think of.

Anything that you make an appointment for to gather events that have happened recently is itself a pseudo-event:

where he points out that the editor of a newspaper in 1970 had 6 seconds to look at a newswire story and decide it is not fit to print.

In summary: if you have to crunch down the days events to a 30 minute programme that's like going from the LA. River to sucking through a straw. It's almost inconceivable that the relevant content would end up on the news and not on the cutting room floor -- the very act of editing does damage to the fabric of reality.

by PaulHoule   2020-09-06
The light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train, this guy saw it in 1971

The problem is not only worse than you imagine it is worse than you can imagine.

Immense damage is done to the framework of reality itself by the mere act of saying that the cud the president regurgitated at 4am last night is news but that 1000 important things that happened to your community were not.

It is inevitable that news introduces "harmless" errors such as the airplane hijacker identified as "Dan Cooper" is misidentified as "D. B. Cooper" by reporters, then the F.B.I. puts "D. B. Cooper" as the name on the file because they think it sounds badass.

The most difficult problem is that the media tends to cast discussions into "two sides" that somehow need to be dealt with "equally". Frequently one side or both sides are disingenuous on one level or another, and participation in a bogus discussion is one of the best ways to "run out the clock" and keep other issues off the agenda.

by PaulHoule   2018-11-05
There are many interesting questions around this.

Is the purpose of news to manipulate your mood?

If that is the case it competes with video games, sports, fiction, etc.

Is the purpose of news to inform?

In that case "current events" competes with an understanding of past events.

I was listening to an evangelical preacher the other day about the book "Romans" written by my namesake and how the apostles are getting their asses kicked in roman jails and preaching with anger against immorality (beyond the pale today in the west) such as polygamy and slavery.

Then I was reading about how the Polish and Japanese both learned how to write at the same time in the same way. I felt the dread hanging over Arlington National Memorial and was shocked to discover who had owned the land it was on.

This 1971 book

predicted that we would have "news on the web" in the 1980s and has a much deeper analysis of that entails than most books written since.

He sees a fundamental problem in "news" that the gatekeeper function has to be done efficiently and quickly. Of all the things that happened today, the "news" is one in a billion or so.

That selection is necessary to create a feeling of shared reality. (I saw CNN at 5:14 and my Uncle Nic saw it at 7:31 and we saw "the same thing")

That selection is also violence against reality itself.