- Spunky girl reporters caught thieves and smugglers
- Superman / mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent fought "a never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way!"
- Fearless investigative reporters saved the world from
Then, there's the real world of old-school journalism. The Lemming suspects that they don't quite understand the information age:News of the World to close amid hacking scandal"
BBC News UK (July 7, 2011)
"This Sunday's issue of the News of the World will be the last edition of the paper, News International chairman James Murdoch has said.
"In the past few days, claims have been made that the paper authorised hacking into the mobile phones of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler and the families of 7/7 bombing victims.
"Mr Murdoch said proceeds from the last edition would go to good causes.
"Downing Street said it had no role or involvement in the decision.
"The News of the World is the UK's biggest selling newspaper and has been in circulation for 168 years...."
Generally, the Lemming's sorry to see a business that managed to last from the 19th to the 21st centuries go away. In this case, News of the World may be more of a phoenix, than a dying swan:
"But Justice Secretary Ken Clarke said: 'All they're going to do is rebrand it' and former deputy prime minister Lord Prescott, who alleged his phone was hacked, thought the decision was simply a gimmick."
Not to seem too cynical: but the Lemming thinks Clarke and Prescott may be right. News of the World seems to be a huge cash cow - far too valuable to throw away.
Besides, the Masses are pretty much stupid and have rotten memories - right?
There may have been a time when 'the Masses' really were borderline-illiterate, easily-duped pawns for whoever was feeding them alleged facts and 'expert' opinions.
Today? Not so much.
If a 'new' newspaper pops up in the United Kingdom - one that 'just happens' to have the same staff as News of the World? The Lemming thinks folks in the United Kingdom will notice. Giving at least some of the journalists new names might help. Referring to the new names as pseudonyms would give the false identities a literary flavor - think Mark Twain.
" 'And there's nobody there, there's hardly anybody there who was there in the old regime....'..."
(BBC News,1 emphasis by the Lemming)
The Lemming has wondered if some of these communications professionals ever listen to what they say. "...nobody there,... hardly anybody there?!"
That was before WWII, Rosie the Riveter, and certainly before the '60s.
There was a time when "investigative reporters" saved the world from corruption and five o'clock shadow. Newspapers said so - and they wouldn't print something if it wasn't true, right?
Much as the Lemming likes tradition and nostalgia: 'Watergate' happened in the '70s. 1970s, to be sure - but it's still more than three decades back.
There have been a few changes since 1974:
- Personal computers
- Lots of personal computers
- Lots of acronyms
- Arab Spring2
But parts of the Superman stories were 'real:' the parts that reflected some aspect of human nature or experience. Otherwise, it's very, very, unlikely that anyone would have bothered with Kal-El - much less made Superman into a cultural icon.
No, the Lemming doesn't think that News of the World is really run by shape-shifting, space-alien lizard people.3
Phil Foglio's film noir/science fiction Buck Godot comic book detective stories aren't serous fiction. Well, they are, in a way - but not very. Quite a few pages seem to be written for laughs. And all of them for entertainment.
The gags, though? The Lemming doubts that they'd be very funny if they didn't reflect some facts. Or things that readers thought were facts, anyway. Like this 'history' excerpted from one of the Buck Godot comics:
"In the Prime Mover's comprehensive overview of sentient and semi-sentient life within the sphere of the Gallimaufry: Why We're Better Than All Of You Put Together, there are various appendices which deal with predators that feed upon sentients. Journalists are placed within this category....
"...these concepts were eventually accepted, and the number of journalists a healthy civilization could support was worked out by the mysterious (and, incidentally, scandal-ridden) Mathemagicians of FftFwand, with a very complex and practically incomprehensible formula....
"...Nobody really understood it, but as it called for the euthanasia of vast herds of journalists, nobody really tried too hard.
"When the last editorial writers had been shipped off to the re-cycling vats, it was noticed that things seemed a lot quieter, a lot less tense, and things weren't nearly so bad as people had thought they were. Stress levels went down, and the new system was dubbed a success...."
("THE HERODOTUS COMPLEX: NOTES BY P'OILGOF LIVY / Chapter 6; The Fourth Estate," BUCK GODOT zap gun for hire (October 21, 2008) [emphasis by the Lemming]
The Lemming does not advocate hunting down journalists.
On the other hand, the Lemming thinks folks who make a living in traditional newspapers should think about why the lizard-like reporter is (somewhat) believable - and why at least some folks think the idea of recycling editorial writers is - funny.
Substitute "editorial writers" with some low-status, but necessary, job title - like "janitor" - and the joke isn't so funny. In the Lemming's opinion - your experience may vary.
The Lemming thinks folks in any profession should be a little concerned, when readers of a modestly-successful series of stories think that wiping out all but a handful of their number is funny.
Which readers and viewers accepted, the Lemming thinks, because folks either believed that the stereotypes were 'real,' or were willing to do so for the sake of an entertaining story.
That's fiction, and light entertainment. There's probably little harm in much of it.
When folks start taking the stereotypes - and the assumptions behind them - seriously? That, the Lemming thinks, can be a problem.
Particularly when folks believe that
- They're Superman
- Earth's only hope against Lex Luthor
- Being reporters means they can do anything, because
- 'The public has a right to know'
- Or whatever slogan is in vogue
Over-simplified? A little, maybe.
But the Lemming's glad that he didn't have a 'successful' career - and so had to keep up with changes in technology and the social order:
- "Why Your Boss Doesn't Understand the Information Age"
Starting a Small Business Without Losing Your Mind (August 9, 2010)
- "About a New York City Fire: but Mostly About the News and Assumptions"
(April 12, 2010)
- "The New York Times, Insularity, and Assumptions"
(October 21, 2008)
Maybe nothing - and that the 168-year-old newspaper's embarrassment is a one-of-a-kind fluke.
Or maybe too many old-school journalists don't quite believe that 'the Masses' really can collect and share information - fast. And, worse, draw their own conclusions, instead of waiting to see what reporters and the editor tell them they're supposed to think.4
- "The New York Times and the Information Age: Culture Shock?"
(June 10, 2010)
McCarthyism wasn't a good idea - political correctness wasn't an improvement - and the Lemming sincerely doesn't want to go back to the 'Good Old Days,' when 'I only know what I read in the papers' might be true for many folks.
So, much as recycling editorial writers, or imposing pre-publication controls on 'those people over there,' might appeal to a desire for a calmer, more tranquil, and more orderly society - - - the Lemming thinks that freedom of expression is important. Very important.
- "Japan Nuclear Power Plants: Behind the Breathless Headlines"
(March 12, 2011)
- "Lemming Tracks: Internet Freedom; or 'Be Careful What You Wish For' "
(April 19, 2011)
- " 'Search Neutrality:' Deciding What We're Allowed to Find?"
(January 22, 2011)
- "Lemming Tracks: Erin Andrews, Policing the Internet, and Power to the People"
(July 29, 2010)
- "Georgia Bigfoot Hoax: Rube Duped by Sophisticated Humor?"
(August 21, 2008)
- "Lemming Tracks: Egypt Government Shuts Down Internet: It Can't Happen Here?"
(January 29, 2011)
- "What is an Information Gatekeeper?"
Another War-on-Terror Blog (August 14, 2009)
- "Writers, Editors, Publishers, and the Marketplace of Ideas"
(August 17, 2007)
- "Why Blogs Will Thrive"
(August 10, 2007)
1 More from that BBC News article, about the 'nobody's here - hardly anybody' thing:
"...News International has refused to comment on rumours that The Sun could now become a seven-day-a-week operation.2 Actually, 'Arab Spring' is still happening - and that may not be the name it winds up with. Instances of traditional establishments failing to deal with Information Age social structures aren't limited to the Middle East, for starters. The Lemming's discussed part of that readjustment in another blog:
" 'What happens to The Sun is a matter for the future', a spokeswoman for News International said. The Sun, another News International tabloid, is currently published from Monday to Saturday.
"The spokeswoman also refused to say whether the 200 or so employees at the paper would be made redundant, saying: 'They will be invited to apply for other jobs in the company.'
"The News of the World's political editor, David Wooding, who joined 18 months ago, said it was a fantastic paper.
" 'They cleared out all the bad people. They bought in a great new editor, Colin Myler, and his deputy, Victoria Newton, who had not been sullied by any of the things that had gone on in the past.
" 'And there's nobody there, there's hardly anybody there who was there in the old regime.
" 'The people are very clean, great, talented professional journalists and we pull out a great paper every week. And we're all paying the price for what happened six years ago by a previous regime.'..."
- "Libya, Syria, Bahrain: Journalists Uncooperative; 'the Masses' Worse"
Another War-on-Terror Blog (March 29, 2011)
- "Zimbabwe, Where Watching the Wrong Videos is Treason"
Another War-on-Terror Blog (February 25, 2011)
- "Information Technology, People, and a Changing World"
Another War-on-Terror Blog (February 23, 2011)
- "Bahrain, Foreign Troops, and - Maybe - the Last Stand of Kings"
Another War-on-Terror Blog (March 18, 2011)
- "How to Not Sound Crazy - or - THE PARANOIDS ARE AFTER ME!!!"
(June 12, 2011)
- "Lebanon, Israel, Pakistan, India, and the Lizard People"
Another War-on-Terror Blog (January 14, 2009)
"From the Pier-Bound Shores of Chelsea to the Austere Grandeur..."The New York Times, serving all the land: from the pier-bound shores of Chelsea to the austere grandeur of the United Nations Plaza; from the verdant wilds of Van Cortlandt Park to the cloud-capped towers of Broadway.
"The Big Apple's a diverse and wonderful city, and is America's biggest city. But it isn't America.
"I see The New York Times as a hometown paper with a long history and a dedication of bringing news of the world to its readers: people who live in the boroughs of New York City. I don't expect The New York Times to reflect my interests or views, any more than I read The Straits Times of Singapore to find out what's going on here in Minnesota, or to get a view of the world that takes American Midwestern interests into account...."
(Another War-on-Terror Blog (October 21, 2008)