Ministry of silly journalism

I’ve been reading the New Zealand Herald for years. It was considered one of the local broadsheets of choice for those wanting to keep abreast of local and world events. Oh how times have changed. Flicking through The Herald online recently I thought I was reading a script for Monty Python skit!

At first glance the headlines and opening paragraph looked reasonably familiar – following patterns of acceptable reporting. Details generally describe incident with basic facts such as location, type of event, who ‘might’ be involved and what follow up there could be. The general slant is tentative and neutral. Then it degenerates and morphs into some strange montage of social media bites, spurious ‘expert’ opinions, local knowledge, speculation and enough spin to induce (e)motion sickness. To add to the roller coaster there is ghastly spelling and grammar, accentuated by the inclusion of verbatim bystander accounts, I genuinely think if you asked these reporters what they think a semi-colon is; they would say it was part of the intestinal tract.

I’m generally up for a laugh, but I don’t find much of this amusing as many deeply personal events are played out publicly stripping back the concept of private and sensitive to be replaced with primitive and sensational. So here is my concern, we are rapidly creating a tabloid version of life that we accept as real. If something were to happen to any of my close friends and family my distress would be magnified. Like circling sharks we have ditched our higher faculties to go searching for the small drops of blood and we are fed all sorts of ‘offal’ information to keep the frenzy going.

The other conundrum is I love Monty Python for it’s absurdity. If that starts translating into my view of the world I’d prefer to slap myself in the face with a fish. But just in case none of this makes sense I’d like to create a piece of fiction, mirroring the patterns I have alluded to above. I don’t want to offend anyone currently grieving over a loved one, and also understand the media do a good job at helping people stay connected and does generate support and compassion. I’m not against the human side of journalism but there is a thick line that has been well and truly pushed through:

Man dies in tiger attack

A 42 year old man from Colon near Oscopy on the coast of Sphincter was mauled by Tiger that had escaped from the local Zoo. The as yet unnamed man is local and is survived by his son Anaal. Authorities are hunting the Tiger who goes by the name of Pussy Goremore.

CCTV footage shows he had been shopping earlier that day but friends say he had not intended to be in that part of town however there was a Manbag sale on. Shop assistant Peter Bowel said stock had backed up and had been grateful to see it turdover.

Eye witnesses say he had browsed through a number of shops that day and had coffee. Cafe owner Lisa Flatu-lance said he often had a bagel with his coffee but didn’t that day so had left early. She believed the man would not have died if he had kept to his routine and had a bagel. Bagel suppliers have now put warnings on their products about the risk of tiger attacks.

Family of the Man are yet to be informed but police have posted information on Facebook and invited members of the public to help piece together his last moments, people with a morbid sense of self-importance are urged to come forward. Tributes have been flowing online including his former high school wood work teacher who had this to say.

“He was a natural on the lathe, nice long strokes on the plane and always put safety first. Sad day for us – we will erect a memorial”

Zoo authorities were keeping caged lipped today but say it is the first incident of an animal escaping. However a self appointed spokesperson who was closely linked to a former employee, a tea lady and local domino champion, claimed the Tiger had no intention of mauling the man but the bag he purchased was made out of Leopard Skin and was probably just protesting.

Animal rights groups have rallied online to ensure the fair trial of Pussy Goremore, who some believe is not actually a Tiger. The society for the prevention of cruelty to people who like to dress up as animals urged for restraint and asked for calm and that retaliation against those wearing animal products was not necessary. The Tiger is believed to have connections in Sumatra, not Africa as some have speculated.

And now for something completely different – the world shoe horn crisis has been linked to global warming.

….Yup I’m done.
cue flying circus music.

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