When I worked in an office we used to receive a weekly email newsletter called "News You Can Use". A friend, Joe (yes I had a work-buddy named Joe at the office, too), renamed it "News You Can't Possibly Use" because the newsletter only contained information about which one of the CEO's pals was being promoted to assistant vice president or the new market in Brumbledunk, Oregon the company was looking to capitalize on. Basically, the "News You Can Use" was a bunch of garbage that none of the people who actually did the work that kept the company afloat cared about.
Sadly, it seems the mainstream media is today's biggest peddler of "News You Can't Possibly Use". Honestly, I didn't know what to write about today, and occasionally when I'm stuck for a topic I peruse the top news stories on a site like Yahoo! Much like most other conglomerate media outlets, Yahoo! diligently reports on bogus bullshit that is useless except to serve as a distraction from what's actually going on in the country and around the world. Let's look at some of the top headlines for today.
Here's the big five stories that Yahoo! felt deserved the top spots in the scroll-through picture-thingy at the top of their page:
1. NBA Son is Hoops Prodigy
An NBA star has a son that's good at basketball! It's good to be a well-informed member of the public. I was wondering if NBA stars ever fathered children that were also good at basketball, and now I know! I'm glad this is the top story so that I didn't miss it.
2. U.S. Factory Boss Hostage in China
Okay, this one actually seems like it may have some relevance. How refreshing! Apparently an executive with possibly the whitest name ever, Chip Starnes, is being held hostage in Beijing by workers at his medical supply factory. This may seem like a big deal, but apparently this sort of thing is fairly common in China when workers, such as Starnes', are demanding more money, better working conditions, or what have you. In fact, the President of the American Chamber of Commerce in China (yes, there's an American Chamber of Commerce in China), Christian Murck, has said he is aware that this happens but he wasn't aware of the Starnes case. So, our media is making a sensation out of this, and the guy whose job it is to know about this stuff is essentially saying, "Eh, it happens."
It's funny to me that the Communists were our sworn enemies which we tried to eradicate in various 'police actions' around the world, yet when Corporate America realized they could save a buck through cheaper Chinese labor, suddenly it was fine to hold hands with them. I guess this whole situation could have been avoided if Starnes chose to have a factory in the United States and employ American workers. He's moving some of the production to India, though; obviously he doesn't see things my way.
3. Rumor: Trade Offer for Pierce
Is basketball that important that two of the top three spots on a news website should be occupied by stories about the sport? Is it so important that a mere rumor about a trade offer is top news? Rumors aren't news. Rumors are rumors.
4. Pitt's Zombie Flick Trumped
So World War Z didn't take the top box office spot, but it still made a shit-ton of money. It would make sense for this to be in a top news slot on Internet Movie Database, but Yahoo!?
5. Myths About Buying a Car
Here's an article about what to do (and what not to do) when buying a car. I suppose this can be very helpful if you're about to start shopping for a car. But are enough people who visit the site for news about to buy a car to make this story relevant enough to be in a top spot? Isn't the Supreme Court about to review a bunch of huge cases? Maybe I'll find out when I listen to NPR in my new car, which I got a great deal on because I didn't wear a raggedy t-shirt and shorts when I bought it. Because not wearing a raggedy t-shirt and shorts when you're trying to look like an intelligent, well-informed consumer isn't common-fucking-sense. It's breaking news.
Alright, so that was frustrating. The only reason I was inspired by the news on the page is because I felt the need to complain about it on the blog. That's not how good journalism should work, or at least that's not how I think good journalism should work. I watch quite a lot of old movies from the 30s and 40s. Most of them (literally, a majority of them) have a hotheaded, get-the-story-at-any-cost news reporter character. Perhaps this type of reporter never actually existed; perhaps this is just an example of Hollywood making the mundane more fantastic. But whether or not there really were ever reporters like that, they certain don't exist now. And when they do exist, they don't work for the mainstream media, and they get thrown in jail for whistle-blowing. It makes me sad and a little sick to live in a world where people who are trying to look out for the public's best interest are likened to terrorists and put away.
Maybe I'm not being fair to Yahoo! and the other massive media corporations. Perhaps they put the attention-grabbing fluff pieces as the top stories to lure in readers, then hit them with the real news after they've reeled them in. Let me look at the next five 'news' stories to verify...
6. Mesmerizing LeBron Mashup
More basketball!!! And this isn't even a news story! This is Yahoo! sharing a video of all the baskets LeBron James scored in game 7 of the NBA finals! What the fuck, Yahoo!? What the fuck?
7. The 'Bling Ring' Burglars
Here's a story about the real teens that inspired the movie and the actors the who portray them in the movie! Interesting, but again this is something that should be a top (maybe not even top) story on IMDb, not a major news outlet. I browsed the first few paragraphs and still wasn't sure if this was a movie or TV show, so I quickly checked it on Wikipedia. It turns out Sofia Coppola directed the movie, which does actually make me more interested in it since I dug Lost in Translation. But Sofia Coppola's name doesn't even appear until about halfway through the "article", which I put in quotes because it's actually a series of pictures with a small paragraph next to each photo. Sigh...
8. Pitt's Ever-Changing Hair
Seriously? Brad Pitt again? I like Brad Pitt. I think he's a good actor, and I've enjoyed a lot of movies he's been in. But is he important enough to take up two spaces out of the top ten 'news' stories? That's almost as many as basketball! And how is the fact that he frequently has different haircuts news, exactly? He's a goddam motherfucking actor! Goddam motherfucking actors typically look different for the roles they play. Fuck you, Yahoo! Fuck you right in the face!
9. Clippers, Celtics Reach Deal
Hey America! Maybe you should be less concerned with people who exercise for a living and start exercising yourself. Maybe you should read up on the horrifying shit they're pumping into our food. Maybe my blood shouldn't be boiling because of all the basketball coverage on the main news feed of a big website, but it is.
10. Kendall, Kylie's Summer Style
Finally, some real news! Fashion tips for the season from two girls named Kendall and Kylie. This is a shining example of journalistic integrity that I look for in the media. Thank you, Yahoo! Seriously though, who the fuck are Kendall and Kylie? I don't care enough to click on the link and find out.
There you have it. That's today's top news. No wonder America has grown into a breeding ground for ignorant shitheads. You can view that as me trashing America if you want, but I'd like to point out that I wish I didn't have to type the previous sentence. It pains me to do so, but sometimes the truth is painful. If I only had a few minutes to peruse the top news stories before heading out to work and I chose Yahoo! as my source, I'd walk out the door today being well-informed on all the latest bullshit. No idea about what the Supreme Court is deciding today, no clue what our government is up to, no knowledge about what's happening around the world other than one small incident in a factory in China.
Thankfully, I do have enough time to seek out some actual news reporting before work, if I choose to do so. Unfortunately, the real news often makes me feel worse than the bullshit news. I suppose that's the problem: people would rather be blissfully ignorant (yet still miserable all the time, somehow) than well-informed and disgusted. The news media is just playing into that, which is a shame.