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It's like diff for TV!
November 13, 2007 9:07 AM   Subscribe

The Quick Red Brown Fox. Tracking how Fox News's headlines change over time.
posted by scalefree (28 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
I was hoping for scandal. Instead: grammar, clarity and softening anything definitive to be vague and insinuating, but nothing out of the ordinary. A great concept, but not a smoking gun among them.

I want fuel for my liberal indignation, damnit!
posted by Gucky at 9:19 AM on November 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


This really is a great concept. Would love to see it expanded to other news media sites.
posted by longdaysjourney at 9:27 AM on November 13, 2007


I agree with Gucky. In some cases, they actually edit the headlines to be less scandalous. "New Car Would Be Just for Muslims" changes to "New Car Would Be Just for Muslims; Automaker considers vehicle with compasses that point toward Mecca; compartments for Koran, prayer scarves." If someone's going to go to the trouble of keeping tabs on Fox, there should be more fodder for my indignation.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 9:33 AM on November 13, 2007


...they actually edit the headlines to be less scandalous.

Uhh...isn't that exactly the direction we'd expect them to edit? I don't think anyone imagines them going with a stolid, respectable headline and then some guy in the back room goes "wait wait wait...how about HITLERY Clinton? Get it??" and they change the headline.

Instead, I'd expect them to go with some "gut-reaction" headline and then, when the lawyers or PR department calls up, soften it to be something a little less offensive.
posted by DU at 9:36 AM on November 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


In the long, windowless hall, with its double row of cubicles and its endless rustle of papers and hum of voices murmuring into speakwrites, there were quite a dozen people whom Winston did not even know by name, though he daily saw them hurrying to and fro in the corridors or gesticulating in the Two Minutes Hate...And this hall, with its fifty workers or thereabouts, was only one sub-section, a single cell, as it were, in the huge complexity of the Records Department. Beyond, above, below, were other swarms of workers engaged in an unimaginable multitude of jobs. There were the huge printing-shops with their sub-editors, their typography experts, and their elaborately equipped studios for the faking of photographs. There was the tele-programmes section with its engineers, its producers, and its teams of actors specially chosen for their skill in imitating voices. There were the armies of reference clerks whose job was simply to draw up lists of books and periodicals which were due for recall. There were the vast repositories where the corrected documents were stored, and the hidden furnaces where the original copies were destroyed. And somewhere or other, quite anonymous, there were the directing brains who co-ordinated the whole effort and laid down the lines of policy which made it necessary that this fragment of the past should be preserved, that one falsified, and the other rubbed out of existence.

--Nineteen Eighty-Four
posted by Reverend Mykeru at 9:43 AM on November 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'd love to see this done for CNN.
posted by tadellin at 9:44 AM on November 13, 2007


P.S. "Less scandalous" could also mean: "Edited after the fact to play down their initial sensational pandering to policy and paranoia that didn't pan out as expected".
posted by Reverend Mykeru at 9:46 AM on November 13, 2007


What a mediocre concept executed horribly. I clicked around on the site for nearly 5 minutes and left, bored out of confusion.

We all (presumably) know that Fox News takes pride in being the sharpest teeth through the gloryhole, and this 'Quick Brown Fox' thing seems to be the type to get a weird kick out of sticking its cock through the cable-news restroom wall again and again.

What was that shitty, cheap documentary a few years back that every coffeeshop pundit and "liberal" soccer mom raved about - "Faux News", or something like that? If you have to have the fact that Fox just might be the bad guys and are biased, lying wetfarts spelled out to you in big, fat puffy-paint lettering, then I really don't care if your politics are in the same general direction as mine or not.
posted by item at 9:53 AM on November 13, 2007


I like the concept, and it doesn't require me to be outraged for it to be worth the visit. I like seeing the changes that get made, seeing how things are altered in real time. I'd like to see the same project for all of the other big news channel websites, for similar changes.
posted by QuarterlyProphet at 10:02 AM on November 13, 2007


item:

What was that shitty, cheap documentary a few years back that every coffeeshop pundit and "liberal" soccer mom raved about - "Faux News", or something like that?

Thank you for the in-depth critique, the astuteness of which is in no way diluted by your not even remembering the name of the thing. It's probably the really relevant glory hole metaphor that makes it.

Incidentally, it was OUTFOXED: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism

In any case, it's your type of posting gravitas that should be nominated for Best of the Intertubes.
posted by Reverend Mykeru at 10:09 AM on November 13, 2007


This one's kind of interesting...

U.S. military begins reversing reducing the 30,000-strong troop increase number of troops in Iraq after significant drops in insurgent and sectarian violence reported in Iraq

...what's more interesting is the story title: Troop Surge Reversal Begins. WTF kind of language is that?
posted by SteveInMaine at 10:13 AM on November 13, 2007


Oops, here's a link to that.
posted by SteveInMaine at 10:15 AM on November 13, 2007


Tell me if I'm reading too much into this.

I've had enough conversations with Republican coworkers who moan and bitch about how the pansy Democrats are finally getting the troop pullout they crave. That's incorrect. The 'Surge' strategy depended on a troop increase that was known to be untenable, and now we're seeing the expected end of that increase. (I'll leave the discussion over whether or not the 'Surge' worked to others.)

I've always wondered why there's an apparent widespread belief that the troop levels dropping is indicative of Republicans losing political battles instead of planned withdrawals happening on schedule.

From today :

Fox News : old version.
U.S. military begins reversing the 30,000-strong troop increase after significant drops in violence reported in Iraq

Fox News : new version.
U.S. military begins reducing the number of troops in Iraq after significant drops in insurgent and sectarian violence reported

Most of this is clarification, and I'm damned happy that they're differentiating between 'insurgent' and 'sectarian', which is all I can ask for in a single sentence.

But notice the change from 'reversing the... increase' to 'reducing the number of troops'. The first, I would argue, implies a return to the status quo, while the second does nothing.

Am I being a touch paranoid here? I can't tell.
posted by suckerpunch at 10:27 AM on November 13, 2007


I've talked to Jonathan Puckey, the creator of the site, and he made it clear that there weren't any political motivations behind choosing Fox News. They were simply the only news website that made frequent edits to their headlines, which made for better analysis.
posted by waxpancake at 10:32 AM on November 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


Reverend Mykeru: It's good to see you've still got your 11th grade reading material. Check your mail:

Someday they won't let you, so now you must agree
The times they are a-telling, and the changing isn't free
You've read it in the tea leaves, and the tracks are on TV
Beware the savage jaw
Of 1984

They'll split your pretty cranium, and fill it full of air
And tell that you're eighty, but brother, you won't care
You'll be shooting up on anything, tomorrow's never there
Beware the savage jaw
Of 1984

Come see, come see, remember me?
We played out an all night movie role
You said it would last, but I guess we enrolled
In 1984 (who could ask for more)
1984 (who could ask for mor-or-or-or-ore)
(Mor-or-or-or-ore)

I'm looking for a vehicle, I'm looking for a ride
I'm looking for a party, I'm looking for a side
I'm looking for the treason that I knew in '65
Beware the savage jaw
Of 1984

1984
1984
1984 (more)
1984
1984 (more)
1984

posted by item at 10:59 AM on November 13, 2007


Let me get something straight here: you folks aren't actually surprised that a major news outlet - Fox, no less - changes the slant of their coverage as stories progress, are you?

Go play with the Wayback Machine when you get a few extra minutes. Set the dials for September 11th, 2001 through, oh, let's say September 11th, 2007.
posted by item at 11:06 AM on November 13, 2007


I mentioned 9-11 twice in two sentences. This means my presidential bid's gonna go through, right?
posted by item at 11:06 AM on November 13, 2007


Man, I miss the good old days of Winer Watcher.
posted by Nelson at 11:31 AM on November 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


I was depressed during downtime at a hotel room to find that Network sometime over the last 7 years stopped being hyperbole and became prophesy. Prime time "news" is just one visibly outraged person after another, punctuating each story with, "that is just wrong" or "how did it come to this?" (Meanwhile I'm wondering what the story is beyond the 30 minute soundbite slipped between episoodes of outrage.)
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:32 AM on November 13, 2007


Mark, STOP IT! If this is an earnest experiment, use your blog or at least ask for permissions before putting a microscope on other people's blog. Having a blog is not an invitation for abuse.

Being Dave Winer is definitely an invitation for abuse.
posted by blasdelf at 11:48 AM on November 13, 2007


(Since no one answered me, I'll pass judgement here : I was being paranoid. If that's what passes for manipulation, then I have nothing to fear.)
posted by suckerpunch at 12:24 PM on November 13, 2007


suckerpunch - a touch paranoid, I think... It seems to me that the second intro is much better than the first. "U.S. military begins reversing the 30,000-strong troop increase after significant drops in violence reported in Iraq". Which 30,000-strong troop increase? Where? It doesn't tell you that the troops are in Iraq, it just says that there has been a reduction in violence there. Now, it's fairly obvious that the troops are in Iraq, but it is bad form to just assume your readers know what you're talking about.

They're subbing on the hoof, it's how a lot of web news is produced these days. There's a lot of pressure to get the story out NOW - typos, factual errors and poor English inevitably slip through.
posted by ComfySofa at 12:28 PM on November 13, 2007


Damn... 4 minutes too late.
posted by ComfySofa at 12:29 PM on November 13, 2007


If somebody did the same thing for a certain other news site, about 10 percent of the changes would be in Entertainment Section pieces by a certain veteran MeFite. I've gotten personal emails from the producers of top rated TV shows pointing out that I misspelled their names. Of course, I keep those email addresses on file in case I ever want to sell them a script (which will have to wait until after the Writers' Strike). I hope my editor (also a MeFite) doesn't see this...
posted by wendell at 1:04 PM on November 13, 2007


They're subbing on the hoof, it's how a lot of web news is produced these days. There's a lot of pressure to get the story out NOW - typos, factual errors and poor English inevitably slip through.

Okay, so there's justification for one edit. What I don't get is why there would need to be more than that. It almost looks as though it's posted in rough draft, then an editor touches it, then somebody else comes along and makes a further change, and so on. It doesn't seem terribly efficient.
posted by SteveInMaine at 1:28 PM on November 13, 2007


Okay, so there's justification for one edit. What I don't get is why there would need to be more than that.

That's the only change to that story isn't it? It says three edits, but I can only see the one instance where it's been changed. OK, they've changed three things, but they probably did that all at once.

They'll be doing it on the cheap and it's not efficient, it's false economy. Stories on the web inevitably get much less attention from subs than those in the paper or on the telly/radio/whatever.

Apologies if I'm wrong, I think it's a bit of a pig's ear of a site and it's hard to tell what's been going on.
posted by ComfySofa at 1:39 PM on November 13, 2007


These subtle changes have major butterfly effects on the perceptions of people in America. You have to remember that behind every edit there is either a thought or conversation about how that wording will be received by the public, which will then guide people's opinions in a particular direction, thereby shaping a society.

For example, the implications of using the word "reversing" versus "reducing" are huge. The meanings are vastly different, and call upon completely different sets of mental framework. Reversing implies returning to a prior state, whereas reducing implies a lessening. One triggers a memory about a time in the past, while the other compares the numbers of troops to a much more recent baseline, closer to the present.

For every edit marked, ask yourself why you think that was necessary. What was the unintended message, and why was it written that way in the first place? What does that say about the reporters and writers? What does that say about societal perceptions, bias, and newsworthiness?

I absolutely love that the site's author doesn't provide commentary on the edits. It's just what is. And we can make of it what we want.
posted by iamkimiam at 1:57 PM on November 13, 2007


[This is good]
posted by Neale at 11:23 PM on November 13, 2007


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