Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Rants: Bad News

Over at Vox Nova, regular contributor Sam Rocha has posted a piece registering his disgust at the news. His post begins with the sentence, I’m sick of the “news.” And he concludes his reflections with, Sure, there are better and worse “news” outlets and we shouldn’t opt to live under a rock, but, in the end, the effect is the same for me today: nausea. How about you?

Well, since Sam asked, I made the following comments (very slightly amended here) in response:

What does it signify that reportage concerning events in “the news” is immediately susceptible to such a variety of slants, spins, analyses, and interpretations, both at the source (the media) and by its consumers (you and me)?

Is this because “the news” contains no Truth upon which you and I can agree? Or is it because you and I make use of the information conveyed to us through the media as raw materials, in order to construct the subjective pseudo-truths which serve to scratch our personal (and/or tribal) itches?

As a for instance, is President Obama taking heat over his response to the BP oil spill from many people because he is pro-choice, rather than because of his response to the BP oil spill itself?

As another, is organized labor in this country being systematically demonized and dismantled (despite its long history of struggle and sacrifice and its huge historical effect in raising everyone’s standard of living) because it has become somehow “unAmerican”; or is it primarily envy causing the rancor?

In short, do we now use news items primarily as brickbats to throw at the head of “the Other” rather than as reports on happenings in the world that may demand our attention as problem-solvers and agents of goodwill toward our fellow man?

Do we use “the news” primarily “against,” rather than “for?”

Do we seek out voices whose constant refrains are “con-,” rather than “pro-?”

All that negativity! No wonder we feel lousy!

NB: Click here to hear Sam jam!


Mad said...

I have nothing to add to your last two posts, except "True dat, 'nuff said." (lol)

Mad said...

And regarding your next "Reporter" synopsis, I thought about the classic magazines and novels and this

Can't hack a novel or a magazine! Glad I went back to used book stores and vinyl records.

Rodak said...

I love used book stores. They make life on earth almost worthwhile. I still have all my vinyl records, including the first album I ever owned--"Elvis' Golden Records"--which I traded a kid in Muncie, Indiana a pair of shoes for. He'd have been getting the best of the deal, if I hadn't hated those shoes. But it was win-win for me, since I did.

Mad said...

Speaking of which, I walked into the used book store from hell, last week. I was trying to surreptitiously snap a photo of it with me cell phone to send you, but alas my covert photography skills are lacking. It looked like something out of a Seinfeld episode.

The street display window looked like all the books had become desheveled in a simultaneous earthquake and tornado. When I went inside there was not any semblance of organization of books by topic, genre, etc. they were stacked up like someone trying to clean the house by filling up the garage. One woman inside asked another customer (apparently a regular) if there was any rhyme or reason to the junky stacks and he replied "You just kind of have to faith that you'll find something you like." Another woman exclaimed, "My god, this looks like my senile grandmother's basement!"

The owner---whom I will now forever refer to as "The Book Nazi"---was screaming epithets at his Renfro/Igor-like henchman about how the junk was being stacked. Apparently the guy sells books by the pound, not by type, condition, age, etc.

Being a masochist, I'm going to try to take a picture because this place had to be seen to be believed!

Mad said...

Oops, meant "Renfield" not "Renfro." Literary faux pas ...

Rodak said...

Yeah, I know just the kind of store you mean. There are (or were) a number of them in the area of lower B'way in NYC. Usually tho' there's an owner (or venerable retainer) who "just knows" where to find what you want, if you can muster the courage to ask them.
If not, it's also a given that a truly good reader should be able to find a book that interests him in any sizable stack (or jumble) of musty tomes.

Mad said...

So, have you been running into any "Twitter Sellers" in your neck of the woods? These are people who don't set prices on merchandise until you almost get to the counter then they go on Ebay or some other site real quick to see what it's fetching on the 'Net and charge you the digital auction price.

I've run into that with some used used record stores, so I never go back to those places. I go into places that have a fixed price on the wares (I'm sure there's some dweeb at "Wired Magazine" that's done an article on the economics of instant price setting). At least the "Book Nazi" was selling by weight not digital volume (lol).

Rodak said...

No. Actually I've stopped buying stuff for the nonce. I'm so far behind on the used books I've picked up, and own so much music that I haven't devoted sufficient time to, that I just decided to cry, "Basta!"
In the past, I always figured that those folks set the price according to how stupid I looked to them.

Mad said...

Well, I'll make sure to wear white tie and tails for the cheaper prices!

Going to pay the "Book Nazi" a visit this afternoon (I'm a glutton for punishment). I'll send the postcard!(lol)

Used to frequent this one in my younger days (in Saul Bellow's and Obama's neck of the woods)

Rodak said...

Yeah. I've purchased books online from Powell's.