Wacky news is on the rise,
February 16, 2002 11:46 AM   Subscribe

Wacky news is on the rise, and not just here at MetaFilter: it's showing up more and more on mainstream news media sites desperate for your attention (and in traditional print and broadcast media, too). For better or for worse, it's not just for FARK anymore. We've discussed many a weird news item here (much to mathowie's annoyance); what about weird news as a trend?
posted by mcwetboy (12 comments total)
Its certainly is in more places, strange because it generally doesn't require analysis (not much more than "Yep, that sure is odd" is needed). If I'm in the mood, I usually just get it from reuters "oddly enough".

Ultimately, though, I think the article you link to pretty much covers the why -- increased number of news outlets, need for filler stories, and easy production. The fact checking does seem to be pretty weak, which would be disturbing if any of these had any real bearing on people's lives.
posted by malphigian at 11:58 AM on February 16, 2002

this reminds me of the onion 'america yearns to care about stupid shit again' article. which i am not going to link to due to sheer laziness, probably.
posted by asok at 12:23 PM on February 16, 2002

Weird news is so common, Shepherd has been forced to make sure his selections are exceptional.

"Nowadays, criminals all the time drop their wallets during the getaway," he explains on his Web site, "the phone company inevitably assigns a church to a phone number formerly held by a porno dealer; foot-and shoe-fetishists are everywhere; many women keep too many cats at home.

"The public no longer believes they're that weird," said Shepherd during the interview. "And my audience is more discerning than most."

I think we should all learn a lesson from this. And that lesson is: We've all probably heard it already.
posted by ColdChef at 1:46 PM on February 16, 2002

Quite frankly, McWetboy, the mainstream news is weird enogh these days. After Amy Fisher, OJ, Columbine, the Election and everything else over the past decade or so, weird is the new normal, perhaps.
In an age where the unthinkable seems to happen every 10 minutes, the whole idea of "odd" needs to be recalibrated.
posted by jonmc at 2:33 PM on February 16, 2002

I like what the American Psychological Association says on this topic: 'The "data smog" that bombards us every day may be making us ill ... The fast flow of facts motivates people to a point, but once it pushes past a critical threshold, their brains rebel. "It causes paralysis of analysis ..."'

It can be tough to find the non-controversial common ground that lets you chat comfortably with others. Wacky news is becoming the Internet equivalent of "So how's that household pet?" or "Prepared any food lately?" In this sense, fluff, bimbos, and News of the Wierd serve an important social function for some, while annoying everyone else.
posted by sheauga at 2:49 PM on February 16, 2002

Seems to me this trend is contributing to my personal pet-peeve: the "dumbing down" of network news.

Instead of informing the viewership of important international news, most local stations rely on these tidbits of stupidity to satiate the viewer's interest in easy news. For whatever reason, the underligning interest in news coverage these days is simple news, or that which doesn't foster discussion or thought. It's a disturbing trend, and one which contributes to the growing amount of public nonchalance. People don't care because they don't know. They aren't aware of important world events.

So I think, as a trend, it's damaging to the public, especially in a democracy. We're thought to have representative government, but that's not possible when the majority of those who are goverened aren't aware of what's going on. A lack of information leads to hasty decisions, all the more damaging to the nation as a whole.

As a trend, it allows people to be comfortable in their ignorance of more important issues.
posted by Psionic_Tim at 4:36 PM on February 16, 2002

[cheerleader post]
What Psionic_Tim said.
[/cheerleader post]
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:25 PM on February 16, 2002

I just hope this doesn't lead a trend in people MAKING weird news. Then again, people that stupid deserve to be mocked publicly.
posted by Dark Messiah at 6:35 PM on February 16, 2002

Hey, if the Empire is falling anyway, bring on the lions and Christians!
posted by ColdChef at 6:43 PM on February 16, 2002

It just kills me. There's so much desperately interesting and significant news -- especially international news, as mentioned above -- that goes completely unreported outside of the papers and the internet. Television could be a truly increadible news medium, given its ability to ingage and almost interact with the viewer. Too bad it goes for the easy ratings.
posted by Ptrin at 8:47 PM on February 16, 2002

Speaking of lame news--I'm wondering if the picture of a coyote which roamed its way onto a train in Oregon made every Saturday paper in the nation? 2nd page of New York Newsday
posted by Eric Lloyd NYC at 11:15 PM on February 16, 2002

Nothing in the news seems all that weird or wacky anymore after the coverage of Monica Lewinsky's stained dress...to name just the weirdest Big Story that comes to mind.
posted by StOne at 11:52 PM on February 16, 2002

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