Rubbernecking at the Trainwreck of Journamalizm

My dictionary offers the following definitions of the word “news:”

1. a report of a recent event; intelligence; information.

2. the presentation of a report on recent or new  events in a newspaper  or other periodical or on radio or television.

3. such reports taken collectively; information reported.

4. a person, thing, or event considered as a choice subject for journalistic treatment; newsworthy  material.

5. newspaper.

Definition number five is pretty near and dear to me, as I’ve written numerous times before how much of a newspaper-lover I am — and how poorly I though that our daily newspaper, in both its print and online incarnations, served my old home community in Albany.

My distaste for that newspaper notwithstanding, there are still a couple of writers I like at the old newspaper’s hyper-hormonal blog portal, so I occasionally poke my head over there to catch up on their latest musings.

I’m often silently appalled by the non-news things that get placed on the front page there — but today they really out-did themselves, moving into a whole new realm of unbelievably idiotic traffic-mongering, shown below:

Bad newspaper? Or worst newspaper ever?

Three cannibalism-related stories on the front-page, one on top of the other? Wow. I don’t know where to start with unpacking the idiocy of this one, and once I do, I don’t really know how I would stop in less than 25,000 words. So I guess in summary, I’ll just note that in every definition of “news” I’ve ever encountered, the subjects in question generally involve things that are real.

Last time I checked, zombies did not qualify on that front, and hence, they should never be news.

But even if they did qualify, why in the world would I care how my boss would fare against them? Will having a strong zombie-fighting boss make me feel safer if a bath-salts-addled face-eater or a human-consuming Canadian blue-movie star happens to land in the office next to mine?

The mind reels . . . as do, I suspect, the hit counters. Wow, and wow again . . .

12 thoughts on “Rubbernecking at the Trainwreck of Journamalizm

  1. You know, I “liked” your post — only to point out how much I “dislike” the thrust of the content. “Wow, and wow again” is probably the best and only way to respond…

    Sincerely,
    The (not) proud holder of a master’s degree in journamalizm

    • If the people who had the masters degrees in journamalizm were running the show anymore, then the world would be a better place. But it’s cheaper for the papers to engage unpaid blog rabble these days . . . and when the content providers and the content producers both lack that academic and philosophical grounding, the profit-trumps-all mentality is what produces idiocy like this. This is not to say that I don’t like and participate in online idiocy . . . but I still expect something better from the largest daily newspaper in any major metropolitan area, and the Albany-Schenectady-Troy MSA is being woefully served in this regard.

  2. And of course, they’ve gotta go to the state worker stock photos in order to make the zombie connection. So very witty. I may have said this before: they lost me when they proclaimed to be “Madonna’s hanky-panky source.”

    • Oh man, I didn’t even tumble to the fact that those were State workers in the concourse of the plaza . . . holy krow, that’s even MORE deplorable . . . which I would not have thought possible!!!

  3. I enjoy zombies. Movies about zombies, books about zombies, TV shows about zombies. I discuss zombies with my friends, talking about what weapons we would use, the best vehicles to drive during a zombie apocalypse, how to defend one’s home. When I run in the morning I think about zombies sometimes, and how I hope I never encounter the sort of zombies who are fast enough to catch me.

    But even though it’s fun to speculate about zombies, that doesn’t really make them news.

    We rely on editors to prioritize the news for us, picking the stories that are most important and presenting them in an orderly way. Featuring the zombie item so prominently sends your readers a message: that this is the what they need to know right now.

    I understand pandering to the lowest common denominator as well as anyone — hell, that was my job for years — but there comes a point when a news organization starts risking their credibility.

    Just for the sake of argument, do you think the New York Times would feature that story front page/above the fold on their website? Of course not. Yes, it might appear as a headline lower on the page for the Style or Movies section, but not as the day’s most important story.

    But there is method to this madness; the zombie poll is the third most popular item on their blog page, even though it’s not particularly clever or well written.

    • I have to admit: I’ve never really gotten the appeal of zombies as a horror staple, beyond perhaps the original “Night of the Living Dead” . . . it’s always seemed to me that zombies are limited in the skill sets by the fact that they can’t really be any stronger, faster, or better than the human beings that they once were.

      I get my spine tingles more from the thought of things chasing me that are NOT bound by the limitations of flesh (especially putrefied flesh) . . . when I was a little kid, my grandparents had a book called “Ghost Tales of the Uwharries” (http://www.amazon.com/Ghost-Tales-Uwharries-Fred-Morgan/dp/0895870835) written by a neighbor/friend of theirs about the Uwharrie Mountain region in North Carolina where they lived. It scared the bejeezus out of my sister and I, as we were convinced that most of those ghosts and haints lived in the back bedroom where we had to stay when we visited as children. My OTHER grandfather was convinced that the devil lived in the woods behind their trailer in South Carolina . . . he’d come in from walking the dog and say “Yep, the devil’s in the woods again tonight,” and me and my sister would have another sleepless week listening for his hoof-steps . . .

      In re editors: yep, yep, yep . . . great point, and I agree that even as the great newspapers turn more and more to their electronic editions, the ones that matter are going to be the ones that maintain better garbage filters on their front-pages . . . and not the ones that look like a second-rate HuffPo meets USA Today knockoff . . .

    • In re: “the zombie poll is the third most popular item on their blog page.”

      I had not actually clicked on the link before to see what article/poll actually said, since I was so appalled by the front page. When I did, I was sorry to see who wrote it, since he is actually one of the folks who I go back to TU.com occasionally to read. I had not realized that he had been shifted into more of that sort of non-news/blog-fodder stuff . . . sigh . . .

  4. To be at least neuralized by Kristi Whatever Her Last Name is and her insightful post last week-ish inquiring of her rabble whether menstrual blood equals art.

  5. To be completely honest, I may have visited the TU 3x since you left. It is simply not an organ for thoughtful people. Not many papers are anymore. In CT, the proud old Hartford Courant is now becoming a poor arm of its TV-station owner. It is my considered opinion that organizations such as universities will become the policy news outlets locally – foreign policy news I haven’t really figured out yet. But amongst us old suburban news vets, the NYT has always had a rep as a stuffed shirt that didn’t know shit once it got north of Spuyten Duyvil…for my own case, I’ve been out of papers for 16 years, and working about half as many hours, earn about as much as I would working 50 a week for some idiot. And I write stories that make me think. Which is more than most the TU hacks can say.

  6. More fun from the Times Union. Short version: Staff reporter/blogger runs crowd-sourced article negative toward real estate agents. Real estate agents threaten to pull advertising. TU publisher George Hearst apologizes to real estate agents, runs free full page ads lauding real estate agents for a week. TU editors and reporters decline to comment when other media inquire.

    http://jimromenesko.com/2012/12/18/albany-times-union-apologizes-for-story-about-ignoring-realtors-advice/

    http://alloveralbany.com/archive/2012/12/19/about-the-times-unionreal-estate-agents-situation?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

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