Tag Archives: journalism

Comic: Breaking News #journalism


Lightning hits school teacher

lightningAn event happened and news media took notice and the following headline was written:

Lightning hits school teacher

To my mind this poses many questions. What about the profession of the victim warranted prime time placement in the headline? What if the victim had a different profession?

Let’s find out! In case it isn’t clear, all of the following versions are my own.

Lightning hits striking dock worker

Was he “hit” or was it a “strike?” Make up your mind.

Lightning hits baseball player for the cycle

It blew through the bunt sign.

Lightning hits nun treed by bear

I’m not sure which is most important here. The fact that she’s a nun, was in a tree, or was chased by a bear.

Lightning hits homosexual soldier; Westboro Baptist Church celebrates

Sometimes bad people get to be happy. Life isn’t fair.

Lightning hits negatively-charged guru; universe destroyed

I canna change the laws of physics!

Lightning cleaves butcher into top choice

Isn’t that killing two birds with one stone? Win win!

Lightning hits restaurant patron with fork

More perplexing ambiguity!

Lightning hits journalist with film at eleven

We get paid to write headlines.

Lighting storms out in anger

Don’t be that way.

Lightning fries a pound of bacon but pig survives

This joke is in very porcine taste.

Lightning hits stranded motorist on expressway with heavy toll

Exact change required.

Model hit by lightning takes it in the shorts.

They call that fashion?

Lightning hits brain surgeon in the head

I’d call that a lightning lobotomy.

Lightning taps dancer

Life is a strange ballet.

Graphing the Apocolypse


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News Blues Clues

In the eighties I worked at a major daily newspaper. No, I is was not as a writer thing then back ago. I worked in a different department. I did learn a thing or two about journalism, though. Spend a decade or two in an industry and you pick up a few things.

Surprisingly times were already lean for newspapers, even way back then. The population in our county was growing and our circulation numbers were up. But they were not keeping pace with the population growth. In other words, our penetration was decreasing. Our key metric was households and the percentage of households choosing to partake of our product was dropping.

It was generally surmised that this was a result of people’s lifestyles changing. The fast pace of modern life left little time for a cup of coffee and reading something in the morning before rushing out to the door to get to work. It also seemed generational. Younger folks seemed to like their news in smaller chunks from more entertaining, bite-sized chunks, like television and the expanding world of cable.

Eventually circulation numbers peaked and then started to decline. It was no longer just a penetration thing accompanied by actual growth. The bleeding had started. And this was all happening before the internet. Oops.
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Ball Beat Urinal #wsj

I wrote about the Wall Street Journal already in an earlier post entitled Wall Street Infernal. I just have a bit more to add.

It’s about the concept of the “walls” between journalists and the editorial board at a newspaper.

It seems to me that this “wall” concept requires a fair bit of trust from us, the humble consumer. That’s because if we begin to suspect, even for a moment, that the bias spills over to the newsroom, then we no longer know if we’re getting news and facts or merely propaganda cleverly disguised as news.

As I read more “Obama is causing the end of the world” stuff in the opinion section of WSJ last week, I realized I don’t really trust WSJ any more. I know in the past their newsroom has been recognized for being unbiased. My gut just can’t tell if that’s still the case.

That “wall” thing just might fly, but then you have to factor in that the same guy who owns FOX News is in charge of the whole WSJ shootin’ match.

Are humans really capable of that level of compartmentalization? When you see such an organized and omnipresent onslaught of a campaign against a single person conducted in the opinion section of a newspaper, how can you really know that the rest of the publication remains unbiased? Don’t forget, they are really good at this stuff like this. It is what they do.

It’s called “page one spillover” and I don’t think WSJ can help itself. It’s like tying a t-bone steak around a dog’s neck and expecting him not to take a nibble. The temptation simply proves too irresistible.

NYT vs. WSJ: Liberal Bias Vs. Conservative Bias?
Is Bias Seeping Into the Post-Murdoch WSJ?

Sorry, WSJ. I’m no longer able to give you the benefit of the doubt.

For me, this is simply a case of Occam’s razor. The simplest explanation is usually the correct one. And what could possibly be simpler than expecting a Murdoch-owned publication to be biased? That’s not so hard to imagine, is it?

Wall Street Infernal

A study in subtlety - Rupert Murdoch style. Better read on, because what you don't know could kill you!

This week I happened, totally by chance, to see some opinion pages from The Wall Street Journal. I don’t subscribe to WSJ nor do I seek out their opinion very often. But my boss loves money – he loves to eat it – so he’s a subscriber. You know the type. He has investments and actually gives a shit about what happens in the stock market. He spends his free time reading about tax laws, learning how to live life and structure things so he can pay as little as possible, etc.

I happened to glace at the opinion page on Tuesday, April 12, 2011, and there was Barack Obama front and center. Above him, a headline asked, “Who’s the Extremist Now?” I remember thinking, “Nice. Now that is subtle.”

Then, a mere two days later, on Thursday, April 14, 2011, I noticed Obama was featured on the opinion page. Again! There was another picture of Obama and the headline above asked, “Who Do You Trust?

Holy fuck shit, Batman. It looks like we’ve discovered a trend!

Yes, I’m aware I’m about to discuss the opinion pages of a major newspaper. The op-ed pieces I mentioned above were apparently produced by WSJ staff writers who both had WSJ email addresses. It is fitting and proper for a newspaper to let it all hang on their opinion pages. But I’ll expound on this further in just a bit.

For those of us not too quick on the uptake, here’s how drive-by journalism works. Grab a picture of someone you don’t like, perhaps even the President of the United States. If possible, select a picture that is unflattering, but not overly so. Perhaps your victim is in mid-sneer or has a slightly ominous look on his face. Perfect!

Next comes the fun part. Write your headline. Since this is the “opinion” page feel free to phrase it as a question. This simple but effective method allows you the freedom to implant almost any message into your reader’s brains.

Lastly, try to find a writer, journalist and/or pundit to write an article to go with your creation. This might seem superfluous and a little bit overboard, but it’s actually quite important for your opinion page to appear, at least to the naked eye, to have some small measure of legitimacy.

There! Stand back and marvel at what you’ve done. An honest day’s work you can be proud of. And, best of all, it’s subtle.

So, I couldn’t help but wonder. This little tactic is so effective and fun, could this possibly work on anyone else?

First, let’s connect some quick dots.

  • The Wall Street Journal is owned by Dow Jones & Company Inc.
  • Dow Jones & Company Inc. is owned by News Corporation.
  • The Founder, Chairman, and CEO of News Corporation is Rupert Murdoch.

As the 117th wealthiest person in the world, some might find that face to be quite lickable. I know I would, slurp slurp! (Image: Wikipedia.)

Ah. Rupert Murdoch. The man who brought us FOX News. Suddenly I think we’re on to something here. He’s not exactly known for his desire to be unbiased. Murdoch’s penchant is for “advocacy journalism” or “agenda journalism.” Both labels fit his style quite well, I think.

Murdoch has been married three times. Notably, after divorcing from his second wife, he married for the third time only 17 days after his divorce was final. Only 68 years young at the time, Murdoch married Wendi Deng, age 30, presumably among those who find personal wealth on the order of $6.3 billion to be reason enough to find Murdoch’s face highly lickable. (An assumption on my part.)

All hail true love! As always, when it is really true that is a very magical and special thing, indeed.

I guess it might be a good thing for conservatives in the United States that Murdoch doesn’t inject too much of his own morals and sensibilities into his endeavors like FOX News and the WSJ.

Back on August 1, 2007, the merger between News Corp and Dow Jones was a done deal. The WSJ responded with an editorial on that same date claiming that Murdoch intended to “maintain the values and integrity of the Journal.” The WSJ was long considered to be liberal in news reporting and conservative on the opinion pages.

Now, back on topic, I’m wondering if we can take a page from the WSJ and try it ourselves. All we need is a picture and a headline. Let’s try it out!


Fooled Around While Still Married to Wife #2?

Whoa! I take it all back. This shit is fun after all! 🙂

So, what do you think? Are the tactics above featuring Obama on the WSJ opinion pages fair tactics? Or do they go too far?

And, more importantly, can you think of great headlines for other photos? Give it a try!