Friday, March 09, 2007

Overstating The Obvious

Los Angeles, CA

Oh, come on. You're not even trying, anymore.
Boy Critical After Being Shot In The Head
The hell you say! Critical? After a head shot? Why, back in my day, my old man woulda smacked me and said, "Walk it off, son. Walk it off."

There's this problem with professionalism. It shows up in news reports, police repots. Hell, it shows up in yearly corporate personnel reviews. Essentially, you have to euphemise everything. It's not quite political correctness per se, but it often has the same effect. It keep people from saying how they really view things. Now, I'm not saying that's a bad thing. Chaos is held at bay by our infinite capacity to whitewash how we really feel in favor of minimal drama. But I think sometimes it goes a little too far.

For example, "A boy is in grave condition after being shot in the head on Thursday night in the Exposition Park area of Los Angeles. Police arrested two suspects and a third is sought, police said."

Seriously, is that what goes through a copywriter's head when they put this together? Where's the outrage? Where's the anger? Yeah, I know, Who/What/Where/When/How/Why. I took journalism, too. Not that you could tell from this crap.

What about, "Three fucking cowardly assmonkey sonsofbitches popped some kid in the head last night around Exposition. The fuck is wrong with you people? Oh, yeah, you've got a bad mommy. Your daddy beats you. Your home life sucks. Well, news flash for you, Jesse James, that shit's for goddamn animals. Should we throw you in a fucking pen where you can shit on newspaper the rest of your life? You know the only high point here? Your life expectancy is just that above a gnat. You're gonna be lucky to get out of adolescence. A thirty year old gangbanger's fucking ancient. Good luck, ass wipe. Enjoy it while you can, because some fucker's gonna gun your ass down one night, too. Now, if the rest of us can just steer clear long enough to let you all exterminate yourselves, we'll all be much happier."

Or maybe I'm just projecting.


Anonymous said...

Outrage? That's a job for guys like you, Stephen. I mean, where would you be if all the news reports read like L.A. Noir? Be thankful of the dry, prosaic style of the news media. It's all just grist for your mill, dude.

Stephen Blackmoore said...

And don't think I'm not thankful for it.

My point, if I had one and that's questionable (much my like my taste), is that the demands of the public are such that the news can't let the outrage shine through. I have to wonder if that does a disservice to both the writers and the readers.

There's an honesty that goes beyond the reporting of simple fact. Yes, objectivity is important. "Facts all come with points of view / facts don't do what I want them to", and all that. Truth is a fluid, malleable thing, often depending on where one is standing for its interpretation.

But at what point does objectivity get in the way? At what point does an event become so heinous that it can't be relegated to the robotic drone of a headline?

Reporting of the atrocities in Darfur? The death toll in Iraq? The scourge of AIDS and other diseases running rampant through Africa?

Yes, we should all be allowed to make our choices and opinions based on fact. But I sometimes wonder if perhaps there isn't room for the emotional context in basic new reporting.

Space constraints, lead lines. They're all important considerations. How do you grab the attention of an increasingly jaded public constantly struggling to keep up with the overabundance of information and still get some of the emotional punch in there?

Is the reporter's role merely to be a lens for others to see through? Or can it also hold those inevitable emotions that such events bring up?

Daniel Hatadi said...

I actually cackled when I read that headline. Very Onion-like.

Poor dude, though.

Jen said...

I think it's due to the fact that our society is in the midst of desensitization to violence...

I had to stop for a moment as I realized that as I'm writing this, my boyfriend's ten-year-old is playing an extraordinarily violent video game. Guess it just proves my point a little.