Bob Franken

MSM Meanings

It’s easy to get confused. Until bloggers started disparaging “Mainstream Media”, I always thought “MSM” was a gay guy thing in the Personals.

One can only imagine the quandary for a gay guy blogger. Does he place his “MSM” ad in the “MSM”?

This is not LGBT-bashing, by the way. Let’s leave that to the conservatives and those who pander to their homophobic bigotry, the ones who don’t even know what “LGBT” means.

No, this is media bashing and not the kind we hear constantly from the aforementioned conservatives who believe those of us who cover the news have our own bias against them.

People who know me have heard of my fantasy TV live shot. Yes, it’s weird to have TV live shot fantasies, but that’s for me and a therapist. In any case it goes like this:

Anchor: And now for a live report on what these latest Washington developments mean, we go to Bob Franken. Bob, what does all this mean?

Me: Nothing Heather. Not a damned thing

It’ll never happen. It’s no more likely than reasoned discussion replacing the name-calling shoutfests that we in the TV news biz call “debate”. What better way to entice the viewing audience between commercial breaks than to replace information with lowest-common-denominator info-emotion?

For more serious reporting, we need our newspapers. Remember them, those off-line thingies that you cold hold while you looked for something you didn’t know about since yesterday?

Don’t you love their anonymous sources—the unnamed insiders, real or imagined, who give their self-serving quotes to fill out the stories? It is true, we need these people to help shed light on what goes on out of sight, where everything of consequence goes on.

The self promoting news releases from those in power and those with power over them, are embellished by the not-for-attribution quotes. The problem is these “sources” have their own agendas. The desperately ambitious reporter is, nevertheless, perfect willing to gobble up these crumbs and ignore why someone was scattering the tidbits.

Because people have gotten suspicious, journalists are now required to contrive a reason why the source doesn’t want to be named. It goes like this: “A person familiar with the meetings, who is not authorized to speak to the press, described them as ‘intense'”. Something like that.

But I’m having another fantasy (Quick, call my therapist!!). Someday, in the interest of real full-disclosure, the disclaimer will be totally honest: “A person, who is not authorized to speak to the press because he has no knowledge of the discussions and no connection whatsoever to the issue, other than a political agenda and profit motive, described the latest incremental move as ‘alarming'”.

Again: It ain’t gonna happen. The Washington-Insider journalist needs prose like that to grease their publication’s road to irrelevance. After all, we can’t leave that entirely to Twitter.

As mentioned earlier, many of us still like the tactile experience of our papers, they give us something to grasp while we try to grasp why we care about the content.

Twitter Tweets will never fully replace that experience. Unless, of course, we change the way they’re delivered. Maybe they can come to our homes in a fortune cookie.

How about a slogan like “Your world in a hundred-40 letters or less”? Oh, I forgot, we’ve had that for years with the television sound bite.

Come to think of it, what we have today is the same silliness spread over different platforms. ” MSM” could also mean “More of the Same Mush”.

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