Info Ugly — News-Watching Sucks

October 22, 2009

There’s little doubt we’re alive in one of the most-interesting periods in world history as all kinds of nefarious enterprises are starting to come to real-bad fruition — unlike other past-historical upheavals, however (there’s a shitload of these chaos-in-civilization scenarios), we’ll be able to practically watch it unfold right before our collective eyeballs — and ironically, for the vast-mass wad of US and world’s peoples, the coming (please select word choice: cataclysm, calamity, catastrophe, disaster, tragedy) will come as a complete shock.
Bad news-gathering of bad news makes great TV.

This particular pontification on current events and social metaphors came about after a call last night from an old journalism friend, a long-time photographer who’d worked with me years ago on my last newspaper gig down on California’s Central Coast (the Times-Press-Recorder) and wondered if I’d be interested in contributing to an online magazine he was helping put together up in Washington state.
He explained the new publication would highlight stories with a positive news perspective, as most news media carries only bad shit, but would instead focus on good coming out of bad.
Good idea, I guess, and told him sure, I’ll see what can be done.
After reminiscing on personal and professional folklore in and out of the newsroom, we hung up.
A good conversation, as he’s a good friend and a most-excellent photographer (view his stuff  here), but there was also something curious in the sense of it — I was tired, so I didn’t ponder the mysterious import feeling within the confine of my ears.

Until this morning — the odd sense, the ring of the idea, positive news, hamstrung the brain.
Although I really couldn’t understand the concept, positive news, apparently there’s a growing market for nothing but — in an age of ugly, seek out the pretty.
Last March, a piece in Newsweek viewed this trend:

People not only wanted to watch good-news reports, they had lots of their own good news to share.
I’m even learning to spin bad news into optimistic gold all by myself.
Watch this: more people losing their jobs has actually led to a massive increase in stay-at-home parents, which is great for childhood development.

There’s already a Good News Network, with stories on things like jeans giant Levi Strauss to include A Care Tag for Our Planet on its products, and even a Good News on This Day in History segment (an example: today in 1797, Andre-Jacques Garnerin made the first recorded parachute jump over Paris, France).
Alas, however, good news after 30 days will be hidden behind a subscription firewall.

In reality, there is/are no good news anywhere, layered down, or on top, or spun out of whole cloth — an extreme-depressing proposition, I admit.
These ‘green shoots‘ of optimism are just a cultural perception of the old “The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades” view of good vs bad.
Not many feel-good stories came out of the Great Depression era, hence, the 1930s were alive with screwball, romantic movie comedies, and a big song of the time: ‘We’re in the Money.”
In bad times, even lottery ticket sales increase — good news come from dreams.
And the factuality coming at humanity, though, is embodied within the worst form of dreaming — a nightmare.

One aspect of the Internet is speed, how quickly events can be recorded, disseminated and digested across the globe — those damn, freakin’ cellphone cams!
Iran’s presidential election last summer is a pure, prime example.
Online allows anyone, anywhere at anytime to become a reporter, or more like it, a chronicler of events, places and things.
Videos of just about every human situation has cropped up online to be viewed potentially near-instantly by billions of people, which makes the point — way, way-too-much information is thrown at the brain nowadays, and it’s not just via the Internet — witness all that horrifying shit bill-boarded off racked magazines on grocery-store check-out lines; we’re trapped there, forced to read glaring headlines on all kinds of cultural-personality-obsessed, dumb-fuck stories.
(Read a loony essay I wrote last year on media here).

Mixed in with all uploading/downloading/viewing/listening is the professional media — newspapers, TV, magazines, whatnot.
These guys have morphed into something real ugly in the last three decades — the national people, especially all the TV types, pursue nearly-wholly other interests than real journalism (Katherine Graham would indeed let her tit (be) caught in a big fat wringer if she could see her Washington Post as it is today) and the real loser is the US peoples.
Just one glaringly-sad example — the New York Times Pulitzer Prize-winning story on the Pentagon’s TV propaganda military-analyst ploy in the run-up to the Iraq invasion — few Americans know anything about that story as it was blacked out by ALL the TV networks (as they were co-conspirators in the scam) except one (PBS).
The continuing loss of anything-near what’s been called accountability journalism is similar to all those failed banks from last year recently giving the same asshole employees huge bonuses — the fat get fatter.
While the national media parades around full of itself, making much of balloon boy and David Letterman’s peccadilloes, the two biggest stories facing the planet are way under-reported – peak oil and climate change, especially the latter, as its influence might be worse than the former, and its arrival quicker.
Although the subjects have been discussed/debated in public, the actual consequences of what’s really occurring and the likely worse-case scenarios approaching have been viewed as fringe or nutcase, and no full-blown balloon-boy-like examinations by the media.
Even with a major climate conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, only weeks away.
The BBC reports nothing of substance will emerge from Denmark, despite the obvious:

Nevertheless, what is clear from the interview is that what is agreed at Copenhagen is likely to fall so far short of original expectations.
Let’s not forget what is at stake here.
The Copenhagen conference is reckoned by many to be pretty much the last chance the world has to begin to cut greenhouse gas emissions before catastrophic climate change becomes inevitable.

And to make a matters worse, Sen. James Inhofe, a wingnut GOPer from Oklahoma, will supposedly visit the Copenhagen meeting with a “a truth squad of three” to undermine any kind of global-warming agreement in an original-classic case of hauling-off and striking himself along with everybody on the planet directly in the nuts.
Inhofe and others of his ilk will in the near future most-likely be viewed as more than just loudmouth dumb-asses, but near criminals.
Despite the evidence, a Pew Research poll released today reports only 57 percent of US peoples in the survey think there is solid evidence that the average temperature on earth has been getting warmer over the past few decades. In April 2008, 71% said there was solid evidence of rising global temperatures.
And this: fewer also see global warming as a very serious problem — 35% say that today, down from 44% in April 2008.

The best sites for info: The Oil Drum and Climate Progress.

Coupled with the environment and fuel is capitalism/economics.
And there ain’t nothin’ purty there either.
Might be hard to cobble together a positive news perspective in today’s money woes — except for the mentioned Wall Street assholes — but there are ‘good’ stories there.
I could part of a ‘good’ economic story.
In my day-job/offline profession as a liquor-store clerk, there’s not really a recession, though, business is not booming, sales have maintained a strong course the past two years.
Whiskey is a good tax revenue and when times are bad, people will still smoke and drink, but are frugal about what they inhale — according to Gallup last June, The percentage of U.S. adults who consume alcohol is fairly steady at 64%, and there has been little change in self-reported drinking volume.
Now it’s more bang for the buck: Whiskey, of all the spirits, is making a bit of a comeback, the council said, and showed good performance in a slow market. Premium rum, super premium tequila and premium vodka also grew.
Mine is just one story in the Naked City.

The rest are experiencing a financial nightmare without an apparent end.
As the US Senate haggles over extending unemployment benefits, 7,000 US unemployed a day loose that small income — US employment at 9.8 percent and California at 12 — and one has the fixings for a shitload of bad stories with new jobless claims higher than expected.
Although there’s some indication an economic recovery is on the way, banks are still biting at the gold-plated chafe, so says Elizabeth Warren, TARP’s oversee chair: “You really begin to wonder what it’s going to take to get the attention of the people in charge of these very large corporations…”
Never-ending story with a bad ending.

Here’s a good one.
From SatireWire:

Unwilling to wait for their eventual indictments, the 10,000 remaining CEOs of public U.S. companies made a break for it yesterday, heading for the Mexican border, plundering towns and villages along the way, and writing the entire rampage off as a marketing expense.

Calling themselves the CEOnistas, the chief executives were first spotted last night along the Rio Grande River near Quemado, where they bought each of the town’s 320 residents by borrowing against pension fund gains.

Law enforcement officials and disgruntled shareholders riding posse were noticeably frustrated.
“First of all, they’re very hard to find because they always stand behind their numbers, and the numbers keep shifting,” said posse spokesman Dean Levitt. “And every time we yell ‘Stop in the name of the shareholders!’, they refer us to investor relations. I’ve been on the phone all damn morning.”

Maybe, it’s the end of the world as we know it, but I feel like smiling — for just a few minutes, at least until the next good story.

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