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.