Saturday, April 27, 2013

The media is the message

Tonight is the so-called nerd prom, otherwise known as the White House Correspondents Dinner. Except most of these guys aren't nerds and this is not a prom. It's a spectacle. It's become a national embarrassment. If Poe was writing the story it would be called the Fall of the Fourth Estate.

WHCD isn't about journalism anymore. It's DC insider media in wannabe Hollywood mode. I mean, here's Karen Tumulty reporting the contents of a swag bag at one of the pre-dinner parties. You would get laughed out of Hollywood for the swag. The real story is in the related links:
Related: White House Correspondents’ Association dinner isn’t costly, but the parties are
White House Correspondents’ Association dinner complete coverage
WHCD photos, tweets, breaking news on “The Grid”
It's bigger than just this decadent weekend where their place in the pecking order is determined by which parties they're invited to. The self-absorption is invading the daily news cycle more and more every day. This tweet was from days ago.
Jake Tapper: "I wish the media covered the media more. We're so much more important than, like, wars and poverty and stuff."
Of course, this isn't new. Marshall McLuhan saw it coming decades ago. But back then, it was at least about shaping the news. Now it's about building a brand. Context has no value in the world of infotainment. Controversy trumps facts every time. As the twitter God said:
TheTweetOfGod: When CNN says they're "breaking news" they are, in a sense, right.
Referring of course, to CNN's dismal coverage of the Boston bombing. But here's the thing. Jeff Zucker welcomes your mockery. He praised his team for "doing a good job" because ratings only count the numbers, not the reasons you're there. Incentives are all screwed up. Sensational bad information drives more traffic than boring facts. The money is in being obnoxiously wrong. How do you fix that? [graphic via]

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