Tuesday, November 06, 2018

The real fake news

This is very good because it is very true:

The History Of The Future

I attend way more conferences than is healthy. I've been averaging about 12 of these a year, as speaking at these things is part of my business. I hear all kinds of hysterical and provocative predictions for the future. The one thing I don't hear is anything that turns out to be true.
If you're a marketing genius with a terrible track record, the future is a great place to hide.
This same phenomenon has established a firm foothold in most of the respectable media:

The other day, on a Sunday, what was it? -- a week ago Sunday, I think, and I picked up The New York Times, and there, page one, there were seven stories on page one. I counted them. And now in the old days -- old only being 10 or 15 years ago -- the news journalistic philosophy was that you would give a snapshot of the world in the previous 24 hours: What happened yesterday all over the world? But the other Sunday, I picked up the paper and I looked at the seven page-one stories and not one story had a yesterday or a last night in the lead. All seven stories were about something that will happen or might happen or conceivably could happen some time in the future. Well, it's a different kind of journalism.
(John Corry, 1994)
The plague is even worse in cable news and in sports programming. Often more time is wasted on endless speculation and pointless predictions than is devoted to actual news reporting.

There is a bunch of reasons why this happens. For one thing, it is easier to support a narrative with speculation than with facts. Facts have an ugly way of undercutting preferred narratives (see, “Hands up, don’t shoot”). In addition, it is an easy way to fill air time; cheap and easy are the bedrock foundations of cable’s current business model. (See Cable news, vox populi, and professional sleaze )

Michael Crichton: “Why Speculate” (2002)

If speculation is worthless, why is there so much of it? Is it because people want it? I don’t think so. I myself speculate that media has turned to speculation for media’s own reasons. So now let’s consider the advantages of speculation from a media standpoint.

It’s incredibly cheap. Talk is cheap. And speculation shows are the cheapest thing you can put on television, They’re almost as cheap as running a test pattern. Speculation requires no research, no big staff. Minimal set. Just get the talking host, book the talking guestsof which there is no shortageand you’re done! Instant show. No reporters in different cities around the world, no film crews on location. No deadlines, no footage to edit, no editors…nothing! Just talk. Cheap. You can’t lose. Even though the speculation is correct only by chance, which means you are wrong at least 50% of the time, nobody remembers and therefore nobody cares. You are never accountable. The audience does not remember yesterday, let alone last week, or last month. Media exists in the eternal now, this minute, this crisis, this talking head, this column, this speculation.

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