Monday, April 27, 2009

Is Mainstream Media a giant, dumb marketing mechanism?

" an age where there is instant news all around us [Newspapers should] capitalise on their one biggest strength — offer great insight and detailed analysis. In a rolling news environment when a story is still live when you go to print, don’t take any chances because it gives new media pundits the chance to ridicule you and tweak your nose. - Tony Lankester

SHOOT: There is a lot of reluctance from newspapers and editors to offer insight or analysis. They prefer to observe, report and shovel their observations without offering insights [and asking their reporters not to do so either]. The problem with this sort of thing means anyone in the public, politician or businessman, can concoct some comment or explanation [a la Malema] and have it work effectively as advertising for a campaign, an idea, a celebrity or simply for profit [or exposure]. Which means, for the public, they're being shovelled someone elses hokum. Meaningful interpretation can get the public wizened up to, say an economic crisis, or see an energy crisis before it happens. Otherwise media is like a giant, dumb marketing agency [which it may have decided that is what it wants to be.]

DA reports to coalition for control of the Cape” says the headline, and the story goes on to say:
“Intense negotiations between political parties in the Western Cape are on the cards as they try to forge coalitions of sufficient strength to take control of the province. The horse-trading will be necessary because of the Democratic Alliance’s failure to win an outright majority in the province…”

I’m surprised the Weekender got it so wrong. As a Cape Town resident I have been watching the results closely for the past 36 hours. And for most of them the party hasn’t dipped below 50% at all and, when it did, it was only for a short while. If they wanted to err on the side of caution they should have printed the opposite story “Majority seems likely for the DA” would have been a more accurate, safer and, as it turned out, correct headline.

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