The Business of News is Business

I’m in rare agreement with Duncan Black:

[I]t seems that every day is dominated by some fake news event – a school lockdown, a missing child, a truck accident, a workplace shooting – with a brief hour of television from another planet when they broadcast CNN International at noon.

It isn’t that these stories aren’t news at all, but they’re local news stories. They’re broadcast only because there’s some sort of voyeuristic lure in them. This was brought home to me when the fake news story of the day was an armored car heist in Philadelphia. People were killed and it was certainly a valid local news story, but there was absolutely nothing about the story to make it have any national relevance at all.

Perhaps it’s our training as social scientists that make us more interested in data than anecdotes. Regardless, Ezra Klein is right: We’re not the target audience.

But armored car heists are interesting, the sort of story on which a bored channel-flipper may let his remote rest. And that, after all, is CNN’s highest priority: Not informing its viewers, but capturing a maximum share of television’s total viewers.

Increasingly, by the way, I’m noticing the same phenomenon in the blogosphere. Several times a week, there is the Outrage of the Day that every major blog is expected to weigh in on and denounce the other side for its awful hypocrisy while defending essentially the same conduct from our own.

It’s a sure-fire way to garner traffic but it generally bores me to tears.

FILED UNDER: Blogosphere, Media, , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. bob in fl says:

    Your headline says it all. If it doesn’t contribute to the bottom line, it ain’t news. If it subtracts from that line, bury it with the rest of the garbage. The public be damned. But at least on the blogs, we stand a prayer of finding stuff not widely reported on the MSM. Even though there is a lot of bomb throwing on the blogs, the comments people offer give us perspective enough to make better decisions on what we choose to believe in.

    One of the blogs I read daily devoted a post to how their blog earns revenue & the estimated amounts. The figures are discouraging if someone wishes to make an actual living at it, aren’t they? I’m glad there are enough of you guys out here who evidently love what you do & do it well. Thanks to all of you, James.

  2. One of the blogs I read daily devoted a post to how their blog earns revenue & the estimated amounts. The figures are discouraging if someone wishes to make an actual living at it, aren’t they?

    I make about $20 a month blogging. A few ads at my own blog and a share of revenue where I co-blog. Not exactly enough to make me rich, or even pay for all the postcards I mail for the 100 correspondence chess games I have going at present.

    As to the outrage of the day topics, I usually avoid them. I never mentioned Norman Hsu at my blog and just briefly mentioned the Iranian President visit controversy from last month. These topics just didn’t spark me to write. Don’t the Republicans have their share of crooked fundraisers too?

    A little over two months ago, I caught a blogger for a conservative publication playing loose with the facts and taking full credit for something that wasn’t his right. Unfortunately with an average of 384 visitors a day to my blog, almost no one noticed.

  3. I think this issue is the one thing that both Right and Left agree on.