Saturday, May 21, 2011

Of Headlines and Deadlines

News outlets struggled to capture the Rapture
With interviews, videos, photos and such
Intimate details make writing exciting
So everyone aimed for the personal touch

Editors laughed at the deadline in headlines—
Lunatic out-groups are always fair game—
Some woman attempted to slaughter her daughters;
I doubt that the newsies will shoulder some blame

Watching the rapture was once fun. I think the first story I saw on it was months ago, and it gave me a chuckle; I was amused that such a splinter story would make it to national press. As you are well aware, not only did it make it to national press, but in the past week I don't know of a media outlet that did not have a rapture story.

And there's the problem.

A fringe belief was given a sort of legitimacy by round-the-clock coverage. The linked story above is a bit of collateral damage. I expect more, and hope to be wrong.

News outlets could have done differently. The lede tended to be "look at how deeply these people believe" rather than "oh, look, yet another end-times prophesy" (yes, both themes were there, but the ratios were not to my liking). The prophecy was "debunked" by other religious leaders pointing to other bible verses, rather than by historians or social scientists. Camping's cult is different only in the specificity of their timeline, and the lunacy of the broader belief was never (rarely, and by atheists, another outgroup) questioned.

This should have been a small paragraph on page 13, not a headline.


Melissa said...

I had a conversation last night with some neighbors about ghosts and other supernatural crap. What bothered me the most was how they used tv as a valid resource when attempting to back up their claims. They couldn't give me any other sources except tv, news stations included. I know better than to trust what I see on television. Hell, I require multiple sources just to consider the validity of a claim. I guess some people have lower standards, and that's disappointing.

Propaganda's Antimatter said...

msm reports this as 'weird news', not as serious news. however as fox, rush et al have proven, there are plenty of (electorally active) suckers who can't discern humor from reality.

entropy said...

Unfortunately, it seems your hope has been dashed. Too bad, it was a good thing to hope.

Joan said...

What a tragedy. In the short story by Ray Bradbury, entitled “The Last Night of the World” a man slays his wife and children to prevent their suffering only to see the sun rise the next day. The collection of stories was made into a movie called “The Illustrated Man.” That particular story starred Rod Steiger and, I believe, Claire Bloom. It should be aired regularly prior to the next faux Rapture hysteria.

latsot said...

It was even more bewildering that UK news agencies did the same. We didn't get any of the billboards and so on (as far as I know) but all our major news agencies dutifully reported the upcoming rapture. The BBC gave huge amounts of primetime airtime to an arrogant buffoon for no better reason than he asked them to.