Day 21 of ? – The Local News

21 Mar

One of the more interesting aspects of modern-day overseas travel is how internet-based geolocation services determine what shows up in your newsfeed. I visited the Google News website this morning and unlike the app (which “knows” my “home” is Ottawa) it was filled with articles about Australia.

Now the default online media that’s presented to the masses these days is pretty much just a garbage dump of clickbait and softcore pornography engineered to sell ads, so it’s important to not be passive – take some time to set up a reliable newsfeed that is tailored specifically to your perversions and biases.

But what I find fascinating here is the differences in the headlines between two similar media environments (Oz and Can). The reporting is essentially the same but it’s also totally different. Take this one for example:

Mum of Four Charged with Murder

I have to admit I totally clicked through and I’m glad I did. First up it looks like the headline was written for the print edition. Did the editor’s choice of the word “mum” instead of “mother” save on printing costs? In addition to appearing very strange to my Canadian eyes, the cost of three more letters for the digital edition is effectively zero dollars. I know that margins are thin these days, but goddamn.

All that aside, what shocked me even more about the article was what they left OUT of the headline. Get this: the “mum” in question allegedly

– shot some dude with a GUN
– THREE times
– in the BACK
– in front of a bunch of WITNESSES

And she was PREGNANT at the time.

So much word candy to choose from. The editor assigned to this beat must have more restraint than, I don’t know, Superman? Who is known for their restraint? Not Batman. Anyway that’s unimportant. But what is important is that while my journalistic training has been mostly informal and self-taught, I feel one could write an entire academic paper based on this headline alone.

Moving along, let’s see how things are doing down in Melbourne.

Seven Charged After Bikie Taskforce Raids Across Melbourne

This one I specifically did NOT click on and it should be obvious why. The whole thing is a goldmine of mystery and ambiguity that would be ruined if the reader were to find out what is actually being reported. My understanding is that a bikie is what an Australian child calls his bicycle (like a blanket is a blankie) so logically a bunch of children raided some sort of “taskforce” all over the city and arrested seven people (the other possibility being the headline was written by a child).

Either way I’m pretty sure that back home it would have been a lot more clear. And I’ve only been to Melbourne once – I really should go back. It sounds like a helluva city.

And finally there seems to be this thing over here where the editors use quotation marks to entice the reader to click on the article. I think we have this one in Canada too, but check this out:

Police Restrain ‘Wild Man’ After Power Pole Mayhem

From what I can tell, this “quotation mark” technique (see what I did there) is used when nothing really interesting happened and the editor still wants to promote an air of mystery and intrigue. “So many questions. Who is this “wild man”? Did he grow up feral like that kid from Mad Max? Was he raised by dingos? Did his dingo parents provide a loving, stable two-dingo environment? Who knows the answers?”

So who does know? I can’t say for sure, but I do know it’s not me – because there’s no way I’m clicking through to find out. That headline totally smells like it’s sitting atop an article commissioned by Rupert Murdoch. And seriously, that guy is a giant turd.

Anyway, this “Power Pole Mayhem” “story” is probably at its base, just another sad, unfortunate (most likely preventable) case of mental illness. I don’t even have to read it to know that this part of the story will of course get left to the end of the article (that no one reads to) or get left out all together. Because the real story here is how our society has failed our most vulnerable by leaving them to fend for themselves. And a headline like this:

Incident highlights societal abandonment of Australia/Canada’s most vulnerable

would be uncomfortable for the reader as it would force them to examine their role in how their society treats the marginalized. And uncomfortable = no clicks = no money. Just like pigs need food, engines need coolant, and dynamiters need dynamite, capitalist media needs capital. It’s just completely unclear to me how this system can sustain itself. And this problem is everywhere, not just Down Under.

Whoa. Man, that got real serious there at the end – sorry about that! Oh, and I should probably be clear: I’m not being metaphorical when I claim the newsmedia produced by the Rupert Murdoch empire smells like turds to me. I read his stuff and I literally smell what can only be described as real, live, steaming turds. It’s called synesthesia. It’s an actual thing. Rupert Murdoch is a turd. You should look it up.


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