Notice I never link to Julian’s substantive analyses of copyright or privacy issues, but a Neil Postman-style screed about news cycles and masturbating chimps and Sarah Palin catches my attention:
Culture war froth comes to the fore because it’s one thing we all feel competent to talk about.That makes Palin the perfect post-postmodern politician, in a way: A totally self-contained text, a signifier with no referent. You don’t really need to know anything to love her or to hate her, because she’s not about anything except… Sarah Palin. Obligingly, she places no demands on either her supporters or her detractors, because what they decide to think of her is all they need to know to decide what to think of her. At the center of her media narrative is… the media’s narrative about her, bouncing down an infinite corridor of mirrors. If Jorge Luis Borges had a talk show on a cable channel run by M.C. Escher, it would look like CNN right now. Welcome aboard the Goodship Palin, now sailing from the desert of the real.
The core of Julian’s rant is why blogs and Internet news sources “so often wind up stampeding after the same trivia as cable networks anchored to a 24-hour news cycle.”
As part of my job, I choose what news stories from a variety of sources nationwide get published on my employer’s Web site each morning. Which means I rapidly pour through a ton of headlines each day. The past few days, I’ve found myself thinking: when did “Black Friday” become a hardcore news event? Post-Friday-after-Thanksgiving reports of how retailers fared, okay. But since Saturday, newspapers have been devoting multiple articles each to budgeting tips, shopping strategies, where to find deals, what to pack while you’re waiting in line, how to avoid crowds, redemption stories of those who’ve foregone the holiday shopping rush, retailers’ price wars, etc. etc. etc.
And I’ve been publishing nearly every one of them to our site. I actually have no idea at all about the secret copyright treaty Julian mentions. But did you know some families eat sauerkraut on Thanksgiving, and the the average American shopper will spend $23 less than last season?