July 28, 2015
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Every day, I read a lot of articles. And every day, I get more and more saddened by the decline in journalistic standards. It’s near impossible to find an article that does not clearly express the author’s biases and preferences.
The promotion or derision of any product, service, or company is done both by what is said and what is not said. An author may compare only features or facts that are superior to competitors, or vice versa if that’s the author’s goal. An author will state opinions as facts. as in, “no one likes or will use this feature.” Even if an author tries to defend his or her bias with “everyone I asked agrees that…”, it is still a flawed sample, since like-minded people tend to attract each other. This is the echo chamber where clusters of people come to believe something as truth when it is simply an exaggerated – or even made-up – opinion.
Spelling and grammar are obsolete. The argument, “you still understood what I meant,” seems to have grown beyond common comments into the articles themselves. Editors are either non-existent, with many articles being published by a person whose title is “Editor”, or if they are, they are ineffective. I just finished reading an article in the Wall Street Journal (now corrected) where the editor’s review comment was left in the article body. This is what passes for quality?
And it’s not just print media that has died. I don’t watch TV anymore, so when I do by happenstance, I am astounded at the behavior of news anchors. The tone and inflection in their delivery takes ordinary news to tabloid levels. You would never see an exclamation point in a real news story, but these talking heads are trying their hardest to indicate what emotion you need to be feeling about the story at hand.
The emotional aspect comes back to the print media as well, where “news” is essentially an opinion piece with a few facts mixed in. Product reviews are not objective, but instead are a litany of praise or condemnation as to how the product suited the reviewer’s needs. And this is pretty much standard now. The best way to get a review is to find a reviewer who has the same wants and needs as you do. Reviewers don’t simply explain features, they explain how you should feel about features. For example, “the product has a hinge that allows it to open up 45 degrees” versus “the product has a hinge that allows it to only open to 45 degrees, limiting its usefulness.”
And a rant on article comments should be forthcoming…
March 19, 2015
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In the “articles that didn’t need to be written” category, as well as the “articles that make no sense” category, I came across this one. There have been lots of articles written about introverts lately, trying to educate others as to how introverts behave and why they behave that way. So I assumed that this article was written with the same consideration. Nope.
Here’s a summary of the suggestions for things to do alone:
- Go to a bar
- Go to a wedding
- Go to a concert
- Do a DIY project at home
- Go to a restaurant or café
- Go to local stores
- Go on a vacation
- Go to school
- Go to the movies
First off, the fact that masturbation didn’t make the list is a major oversight and destroys the author’s credibility. That would be the #1 thing to do while alone.
Jokes aside, the author doesn’t seem to know what the word “alone” means. All but one suggestion involves going out to where people are, many times with the intention of meeting new people. That’s not being alone. The article title should be “10 things to do alone when you don’t want to be alone”.
This article was an easy target, but there are becoming more and more easy targets every day. Another alarming trend I am seeing is grammatical errors in news stories. Things like missing words or misspelled words (probably via autocorrect). In print media, there used to be a position called “editor”, whose role it was to read and correct all stories before publishing. The editor would do normal proofreading, but would also manage the style and tone of the story. When you understand how involved this could be, you gain a greater respect for the editor role.
But in the modern world of self-publishing, immediate deadline, 24-hour news, the editor role seems to be obsolete. Editors would be more suited for weekly magazines like Time or Newsweek where the articles would be a more in-depth retrospective of events. It’s kind of sad to me.
So what’s my excuse when I have a spelling mistake or a grammatical error? Well, I don’t have an editor. I do a re-read of my posts usually, sometimes a couple of times. But we know how easy the brain can skip over double words or can mysteriously fill in missing words when you know what’s coming next.
December 10, 2014
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This is something that I’ve seen for a long time. Maybe I’ve complained about it before. But I’ve started to see the problem manifested in different ways and the progression is a little disturbing to me.
Quite a long while ago, news channels discovered there wasn’t really enough news to support a 24-hr cycle. So they started doing more sensationalistic pieces. Then they started moving towards opinion pieces. With “opinion news”, they could discuss the same news story in many different ways, filling up the time needed. The problem with that is that it’s opinion. That’s one person telling you what you should believe. And you know what? That works very damn well.
Recently, an organization I was affiliated with came under attack by a variety of people led by a single blogger who drew a multi-step path of loose connections into an accusation of racism. And you know what? It worked pretty damn well. Not flawless, because many people were able to think rationally and refute the claims. But, when led down a path – “and if that’s true, then…” – some people will see whatever it is you want them to see.
Most recently, I saw a funny video on Youtube. In the related videos, I was surprised to see some new genre, “reaction videos” was now legitimate. Think about that. You’re watching a video of people watching a video. I bring this up because it’s another way of leading you down the path. “You see how these people are reacting to this? You didn’t react the same way. You’re different.”
And that’s the root of the problem. All of these sources are trying to tell you how to think, how to behave, and what to believe. Be yourself, be confident, be good.