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The Holmes Page THE SOAP BOX 1997/07/16



1997/07/16: No News Is Good News   It has been a long time since I listened to the news on the radio. I don't even watch the TV news any more. 
The standard format of news shows is entirely at fault. Every story is told three times: once by the announcer, once by the reporter, and once by the actual persons involved. 
Here is an example scenario: 
[announcer introduces the story, projecting confidance and authority] 
"Canada's Minister of Labour has announced that the unemployment rate is down by 2 tenths of a percentage point. Although the number of unemployed Canadians has gone up, more jobs were created in the high-tech sector. Here is Reporter X with the details." 
[cut to reporter, standing in front of the Parliament buildings] 
"Today in the capital the Minister of Labour gave her address on the unemployment figures. She says that the new jobs in the high-tech industries caused the unemployment rate to drop 2 tenths of a percent. This good news was offset somewhat by the numbers which indicate that there were actually more people out of work." 
[cut to Minister in the halls of Parliament, surrounded by reporters] 
"Our latest statistics show that the rate of unemployment in Canada has fallen by 2 tenths of a percentage point. We attribute this to the many new jobs created by our Science and Technology Sector Job Creation Program. Certainly, the actual number of Canadians looking for work rose, but we feel that the additional jobs more than compensated for this." 
This kind of repetition is all too common. It is just an easy formula that news shows fall back on too often when they are trying to fill in the time. 
Why don't they just get rid of the announcer and the reporter and simply give us the comments of the real person? One obvious reason is that a lot of the "news" is generated by politicians, and you can't get a clear sentence out of those slippery individuals. 
Listen for this pattern the next time you are watching the news. Then curse them for wasting your life.

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Next: 1997/07/30 - The Joy of Stats

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