Thursday, April 17, 2014

Headlines Don’t Tell the Whole Story — And in Some Cases, None of It

From a right-of-center perspective, Tom Blumer examines one afternoon’s worth of electronic media headlines that managed to either obscure or outright twist the known facts:

A typical iPad 3 user

There’s a new and largely overlooked problem in this election cycle:  Story headlines have become more powerful than ever. That’s because far more people than in 2008 are getting their “news” from headline feeds sent to computers, smart phones (46% of all wireless phones), and tablets (34 million users). Even avid news consumers with busy lives won’t go to what’s behind most of the headlines they see on these devices — and when they do, especially given the limited real estate on their screens, they will rarely read past the opening paragraph or two.

This is a serious concern because the aforementioned propagandists, with special assistance from certain leftist outlets, have a virtual lock on these feeds. As I see it, their privileged access has given them extraordinary power this time around to influence the political and cultural narrative — and they have learned how to abuse it.

Tom Blumer, “Headlines Control the Narrative. Guess Who Controls the Headlines?”, ‘PJ Media’, March 29, 2012.

So, while millions have iPads and wireless phones, they may still be completely in the dark about real events.

For many, the headline has become the whole story.

Can this be the ultimate result of the “dumbing down” of the electorate, for whom attempting to concentrate for more than thirty seconds of their time puts them in overload?

Could it be the triumph of the sound bite? Or even the long-overdue arrival of Orwell’s Newspeak:

By 2050—earlier, probably—all real knowledge of Oldspeak will have disappeared. The whole literature of the past will have been destroyed. Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Byron—they’ll exist only in Newspeak versions, not merely changed into something different, but actually contradictory of what they used to be. Even the literature of the Party will change. Even the slogans will change. How could you have a slogan like “freedom is slavery” when the concept of freedom has been abolished? The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking—not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness. — George Orwell, NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR.

. . . or the apotheosis of Newspeak, duckspeak:

Ultimately it was hoped to make articulate speech issue from the larynx without involving the higher brain centres at all. This aim was frankly admitted in the Newspeak word duckspeak … Provided that the opinions which were quacked out were orthodox ones, it implied nothing but praise, and when the ‘Times’ referred to one of the orators of the Party as a doubleplusgood duckspeaker it was paying a warm and valued compliment. — Ibid.

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