decontextualized news content

“It’s not what you say, it’s what people hear,” Frank Luntz sagely wrote. Online, it’s not what you write, it’s what people read. Dear New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, et al, it doesn’t matter how earnest your daily reporting is. The headless, decontextualized, nature of social media sharing and ATOM/RSS reading means that newspapers are not judged based on expanses of serious gray copy in their greater corpus, but soley on the tantalizing bits and pieces that both excite and damn the social mediasphere.

jacques derridaReaders only know that they read and what they’re told. French philosopher Jacques Derrida said “Il n’y a rien en dehors du texte” to explain that context never travels with content. He believed that the quality of content — text — should be judged exclusively on it’s own merit and not based on a cult of personality, past works, cited works, or the age, gender, race, or creed. Ergo, the creator is fully and solely responsible for building a complete biosphere of self-referential context.

Because of the way content is shared online, the New York Times and the Washington Post seem extremely liberal and vehemently anti-Trump. The reason is because the moment content from these esteemed and respected news sources publish their tsunami of hyper-local, local, regional, national, and international reporting, it’s also churned up with letters to the editor, columns, opinion pieces, and every other over-the-top personal opinion piece that these papers also publish alongside the news.

Which of this content do you think winds it way from New York and Washington’s liberal elite into the badlands of Trump supporters and conservative talk show hosts? The opinion pieces, of course. No, not the news, not the reporting, and surely not the rote who, what, when, where, why and how that has made these papers of record.

Additionally, the best reporters and journalists aren’t always wearing their Press hats. The crème de la crème are also endlessly invited to news and late night talk shows where they come out from behind the veil of hard news to share their personal views on what’s going on in the world. And then there’s the book tour, where even hard-boiled newspapermen gush about their own personal views about the election cycles and the competency of new presidents, and so forth.

What do you think makes it to Breitbart and over to Alex Jones on InfoWar? Not the unbiased, world-class, blue-ribbon, Pulitzer and Peabody award winning reporting and news, that’s for sure. The damning personal opinions that undermine are used to corrupt and poison the value and validity of both the journalist and, even more insidiously, the entire institution.

The NYT, the WaPo, WSJ, etc, are getting so beat up because there’s no discernment between the proper rigorous reporting and journalism and the endless torrent of anti-Trump screeds in the form of op-eds and columns.

We live in a post-context world. An RSS social sharing world. Profanely subjective opinion pieces and objective reporting are all lumped together. The Times, the Post, and the Journal are being judged solely based on their pungent and ad hominem-riddled op-eds and letters to the editor. Oh, and also on their interviews on all the political talk shows and the news channels.