Having worked for decades as a newsman, I am distressed to find that news has been supplanted by fake news (in some states, supplanted beneath turnips.) Perhaps worse, people tend to believe fake news more than the non-fake (aka real) news.
Take these real headlines in yesterday’s Times:
Hawking says life on earth has only a thousand years left
Merchants predict spike in thousand-year calendar sales
Look at how firstname.lastname@example.org twists that:
Alt-right says Obama is to blame for world ending early
Obama ducks questions about end of world, injures duck
How can you tell fake news from real news? Researchers have found only one thing that works consistently: intelligence.
Where can you get some intelligence? If you’re asking this question two thoughts occur simultaneously. One: you need intelligence. Two: you’ll never get any. Bonus thought: The Central Intelligence Agency will never bother you.
For those with at least a modicum of intelligence (ie: up is up there, down is down there, in is in there and out is one-third of a half-inning) here are the basics of real news.
• Real news is an out-of-the-ordinary happening to someone in reality, although not necessarily on reality TV, which may or may not be real reality (Let’s say probably not.)
• Real reality is where audible, visible, tangible, smellable and/or feltibibble things happen to real people.
• Real people are those who cast a shadow and have way too much stuff.
• Real news is something that is discovered by real reporters with some level of formal training in finding real news (Trump University’s School of Pretend Journalism doesn’t count.)
• Real reporters go to primary sources to get both sides of a story before reporting on it. Example: Real reporters, rather than going with the press release from Genesis 3:7 “Adam ateth of the forbidden fruiteth,” get quotes from both parties. Adam: “And I say unto thee, come on Dude, she made me doith it.” And Eve: “What crapith. He was just trying to get into my leaf.”
• Real news is composed of solid facts but none of your factory air.
• Real reporters seek answers to 6 questions known as the Five W’s and the H: Who, What, Where, When, Why and How. On the rare occasions they don’t work, they can always fall back on Whither and Whumpa.*
An intriguing aspect of real news is that it isn’t always what people want to believe. Presented with unsettling real news, many people go through Elizabeth Keebler-Elf’s Five Stages of Good Grief:
• Stage One, Denial: That’s bullshit!
• Stage Two, Anger: Get outa here with that bullshit.
• Stage Three, Negotiation: You want any lovin’ tonight, you better cut the bullshit.
• Stage Four, Depression: This bullshit has really got me down.
• Stage Five, Acceptance: Well, whaddya expect from a pig but bullshit?
(Warning: Metaphor belt ahead.)
Is it any wonder that people, overcome by barnyard manoo, slide down a slippery slope into shark-infested waters where they grasp at straws — not nearly as practical as, say, a rope.
They then get shark-bit in the butt where, it turns out, their brains have long since been vacationing. The shark takes everything they ever learned in grammar school about commas, George Washington and the electrical college.
Desperate, they reach out for a lifeline called “Fake News,” and are pulled toward the shore of Unbelievable Lies. Grateful to be alive they immediately apply for citizenship after signing a pledge of allegiance to the concept of one and one equals negative four.
*Fake news also has a six question standard: Who cares? What will they fall for today? Where else can you make $300k a year by lying? When will my new Maserati El Camino be delivered? Why didn’t I think of this before? and How now brown cow?
©Patrick A. McGuire and A Hint of Light 2013-2016, all rights reserved.