Monday, June 6, 2011

Covering the Future

As part of sporadic comments on journalism, a while back I made notes on “Maybe Journalism” (here) citing Brigitte’s comments that it is a routine aspect of the news to bring us “endless speculative stories about what people plan, intend, seek, project, surmise, etc.” I thought I’d record another sampling from today’s New York Times. The paper recently announced the elevation of one of its two managing editors, Jill Abrahamson, to executive editor in September—and I am sure that she will sweep like a new broom and “Maybe Journalism” will therefore disappear. Thus it’s high time to make final notes on this soon-to-be-healed ugly deformation on the face of journalism.

Today’s headlines include STEEPER PULLOUT RAISED AS OPTION FOR AFGHANISTAN. Read here that the administration is signaling changes that the military establishment actually opposes. Here is another: West Presses Rebels for More Details on a Post-Qaddafi Government—suggesting that lack of progress against Qaddafi in the field is causing Britain’s foreign secretary to jawbone the rebels instead. In the Sudan Broader Conflict is Feared… Meaning? Meaning that the NYT is covering the future—not actual events. Finally we learn that ‘Culture Warrior’ Looks to Broaden the Battle, which amounts to saying that Senator Santorum plans to declare himself a presidential candidate.

The less we, the people, can actually do to influence politics—short of answering long telephone interviews seeking our opinion, which will be read as indicators of how we plan to vote in some future election more months ahead than we have fingers on our hands—the more information we are getting on what might happen so that we can hone our future reactions. As we gradually approach immortality thanks to the magic of modern medicine, so our collective organs are expanding to make the future Now.

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