My folks used to watch the news every night without fail. It was the news out of Vancouver, hosted by Tony Parsons and Gloria Macarenko. My parents watching the news was such a huge part of my life that I didn’t have to even look up those names, they’ve been burned into a large chunk of my synapses. I hated the news as a kid because, well, it was boring.
The news wasn’t electrifying, exciting or enticing growing up. It was the facts, what was going on in the city, the province, the nation, and the world. There was no opinion, no scary or moving music, no shouting. The job of the news was to inform, not to entertain.
There was also shows with a more editorial perspective, like W5. It was informative, but it was also slanted. It had music to give a certain mood, and presented not only the facts, but the emotions that you should be feeling along with the information. With stories like “Are you getting ripped off at the mechanics” and “How much salt is really in your food”, they were shooting for specific emotions. Anger, disgust, outrage.
There wasn’t any voices raised during the news. But during the editorials there certainly were. Mostly my father calling out the bullshit. If there’s one thing I remember vividly about my father, it’s that he didn’t like being told how to feel about something. Both my parents usually would scoff at the editorial style investigative journalism.
Fast forward to today. Nobody I know watches the news anymore. Everybody seems to get their news online. This allows people to gather news from a much wider variety of news sources than my parents ever had. We are overwhelmed with an overload of news information. The issue is, is that no one is capable of reading all the news that would come across a daily feed, whether you get that news from CBC, Al-Jazeera, Facebook, Fox, CNBC, CNN; it doesn’t matter the source, there’s too much of it. There’s also more channels available, and I’m not just talking television stations. There’s Vice for more alternative news, BBC for news from Britain, Huffington Post, for more pop culturish news. There’s a news outlet for everyone.
In the world of news tailored to your tastes, there’s a larger portion of people who have the news built to fit their lifestyles, their tastes, and their opinions. I’m certainly no different. I find myself browsing Reddit, CBC, Al-Jazeera, Vice, and NPR. I avoid places that don’t suit my lifestyle or my tastes. I also tend not to peruse news that it clickbait in style and manufactures outrage. Articles from sites like the Daily Mail and The Rebel Media turn me off.
The daily mail is basically a tabloid, but I find the Rebel to be a little more insidious, as it used language to incite people to get riled up. It also distorts facts, states opinions rather than facts, and basically makes a mockery of journalism. Here’s the front page of the Rebel. I took a snapshot.
Look under the ‘Need to Know’ articles. The first one is titled “For progressives, ‘zero tolerance’ only applies to straight-A students, not murderers, pedophiles”. When you click on the article, you find out a 16 year old was suspended from school for having a 4 inch pocket knife. Honestly, I can agree it was an extreme method of punishing a student. The article then goes on to explain that the supreme court considers mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenders unconstitutional.
Whoa whoa whoa. How on earth did we go from a student getting expelled from his school by his school board, to the supreme courts decision to to repeal mandatory minimum sentences? Was the student forced to face trial against the supreme court of Canada? Wasn’t the decision to suspend the student coming from the school? How does the two articles tie into each other? The headline itself is meant to cause outrage. Murderers? Pedophiles? I DON’T agree with THOSE things! Is this HONOR student made to walk in shame and have a trip to PARIS cancelled? While MURDERERS and PEDOPHILES continue to prey on HARD WORKING Canadians?
The two item have absolutely nothing in common. On one hand, you have some over zealous educators go overboard when disciplining a student. On the other hand, you have a policy regarding drug laws that has been proven to have failed during the course of the trillion dollar drug war. They aren’t in the same ball park. They’re not even in the same league. They’re not even playing the same goddamn sport. Everything about that article is cringe worthy. It’s not an article, it’s the drunken ramblings of that guy who’s had too much to drink at the bar, who then proceeds to tell you that jet fuel can’t melt steel beams.
The problem with having our news filtered is that we become blind to the other sources around it. Especially those sources that offer opinions differing from our own views. And that’s dangerous. As much as it pains me, I’m going to be reading the Rebel a lot more often from now on. For a cynic who writes about people spouting bullshit, that place is a goddamn goldmine.
The Illustrious Mr. Charlton
p.s. Notice how THEY use a bunch of all-caps in HALF of their headlines? I don’t know about YOU, but I’m certainly not MANIPULATED.
2 thoughts on “Manufactured Outrage”
Are these articles made to rile people up in the hopes of attaracting return readers, or do you think the misleading information presented is intended to actually shift public opinion towards some other ends?
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I think in most cases, it’s to attract a readership who already believes what the article preaches, and is looking for something to validate their pre-existing opinions. That’s my take on it anyways.