Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Fark News vs Real News

After reading Jamie’s post about Fake vs. Real News, I feel like I should come out to also admit I am not a big politics buff. Don’t worry Jamie, you’re not alone! I too am one of the people who just don’t get it as much as I’d like to. Where I get my news is usually on the internet, through large forums, community websites and word-of-mouth (or should I say word-of-text).

“What is Fark exactly? Fark is what fills space when mass media runs out of news. Fark is supposed to look like news... but it's not news. It's Fark.” is one of my favourite news websites where, very much like, hosts a daily batch of news articles and other items from various websites. These are links submitted by Fark users who have then been approved by administrators. They are also placed into categories like Not News (their signature category), Sports, Business, Politics and sub-categories such as Interesting, Amusing, Cool, Strange, Scary, Weird, etc. The list goes on; however, I feel the main focus of this process is to draw out the most entertaining, albeit useless, pieces of the bunch. To this, I fall victim to the youth statistic of preferring infotainment over CNN.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with CNN. Or at least there is yet to be any incriminating evidence against it. It is a so-called reputable news source, free of subjectivity, fair and impartial. Aside from that, it lacks interpretation and active audience participation. Today our youth culture is making the big switch from the formal newsroom to the comedy channels, particularly The Daily Show.

In the Megan Boler reading, we realize that satire is a great method in order to portray contradictions in our skeptical post 9/11 society:

“…because irony turns on the unsaid; it uses the dominant forms of logic to express what is otherwise silenced as dissenting didacticism; it expresses horrors in forms that are palatable; it creates a sense of shared meaning and community by using the unsaid to create a recognition of the dominant culture as misrepresentation."

In The Daily Show, manifested in the tradition of popular news-related television comedies (such as Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Update” and This Hour Has 22 Minutes), we see such an example of political irony to expose other possible interpretations. While news stations are telling us what things mean, John Stewart is telling us what they really mean. I find it fascinating how a simple aspect like humour can alter people’s perceptions and initiate some sort of large-scale awareness. Was this not mentioned in Boler’s article that even court jesters were banned during troubled times? Furthermore, Jeffrey Jones claims that “…humor offers a means of reestablishing common-sense truths to counter the spectacle, ritual, pageantry, artifice, and verbosity that often cloak the powerful.”

More importantly in a bottom-up model, the basis of satire gives a voice to the people and ultimately, gives them a taste of power. Something I believe should forever survive in our democratic society.


Megan Boler, "The Transmission of Political Critique after 9/11: 'A new form of desperation'?" <>

Jeffrey P. Jones, " 'Fake' News versus 'Real' News as Sources of Political Information: The Daily Show and Postmodern Political Reality"

Vote for the Wrong and your Rights!

During the presentation on the Death of Media, Tanya spoke about the illusion of democracy and how often we are blinded by the media. Television shows that claim that they are audience/viewer run when there are ulterior factors that are far more important in its contribution. It had made me think about American Idol and its skeptical campaign Vote for the Worst.

Vote for the Worst(VFTW) is quite self-explanatory. It is dedicated to enticing people into voting for the worst contestant on American Idol. I’ll save some time and give you a link if you want know more:

The people behind the website have realized that television producers are not only playing an unfair game but also have made clear their decisions are based off of maximizing their profits. American Idol has never been showcasing the best talent of America, rather it was giving us the most successfully entertaining batch their producers could concoct. Hence, why the audition clips are an essential part of the show.

Schechter describes that profit making has been the primary mission of mega corporations, and their programming is designed to maximize that goal alone. Their method has always been monologue, even through such gimmicks as audience voting and internet chat to create that illusion of viewer involvement. Is this fair? More importantly, when and how are we fighting back? How are we to disrupt this corruption? Will remediation be a step towards saving the imminent death of media? Schechter also tells us that a media and democracy movement is required; a push towards accuracy and fairness, breaking up media monopolies and supporting public broadcasting. Additionally he reminds us to be actively aware and participate in the media. In class we discussed this participatory culture and came up a few methods, such as building a collective intelligence, creating knowledge communities where predictions can be drawn and be used in productive ways.

In response I have since become much more active in social communities online where by spreading knowledge and teamwork, some sort of minor social activism can evolve to a spark to make a change. I refuse to let the onset of mediaocracy eat me alive!


Danny Schechter, The Death of Media