Money (Business + Politics). Crime. Tragedy. Sports. Sex/Entertainment.
With minor variations, these are the priorities of content presented within major metropolitan newspapers. Thus, these categories define the general parameters of 'News' because they present themselves in not just one popular region, like New York or San Francisco, but span west coast to east coast, palm tree to pine tree. Before viewing the thumbnails below of each featured newspaper, keep in mind that the synonymous content isn't simply forcefed to readers based on some media shadow- government; they stay in business year after year because common people pay to read them. So there is indeed a mutual reward system--it's not a one-sided brainwashing--and not a vilification of the press. As I often remind myself: We are society, both dealer and user.
I selected seven major metropolitan newspapers, which all appear within the top twelve most highly circulated newspapers in the country.
You need not read every page to pick out the main topics. They pop right out and is how I identified the fundaments listed up front in the first place. Major metropolitan newspapers thus have the same vision, however, as I said before, since there's a symbiotic relationship between publisher and reader, what we're seeing demonstrated here are the fundaments of common culture. Again, pointing these out isn't an exercise of vilification, but an exercise at reflecting in a different way the ambient cultural values we practice on a daily basis. It's priority indoctrination Nonetheless, we've chosen these things as priorities, and since metro areas attract and breed shameless extroverts, these places are megaphones of issues varying from banality to profundity. That is not to say each of these qualifiers is represented in proportion, as we'll see shortly.
Despite America's population boom and its myriad pockets of subcultures and their interpretation of American history, the repetitive concrete headlines demonstrate that the basal American values really don't vary that much. (Not true in all countries, by the way). Sure some states are Red and some Blue, but nearly every state is convinced those are the only two legitimate political affiliations. Green Party? Saving trees is so cute...good for you guys. But we've got pressing matters here. If you choose academics over sports you're accepted as long as economic production is in your sights. And crime, crime, crime. What I found striking is how it felt like I was reading the same Associated Press article across all seven papers.
We can track our culture's evolution (keep in mind evolution doesn't necessarily mean betterment) by tracking newspaper headlines across time through linking common themes. Sometimes they're brazen and other times you have to search harder, but if the same issues keep presenting themselves in different areas over a period of time, then guess what...you're seeing what that culture values. Not that it's the best way things could've developed, or that it's an objective perspective, but simply that it's the current mental orient of that culture. Newspapers can give us a snapshot of what our culture values, but that doesn't mean they operate objectively or define the human condition; most of what appears in newspapers is sensationalized, profit-driven bullshit. If it's content was driven by objectivity, then they would be solving issues and moving onto new ones, rather than simply reporting on the popular issues that grab people's attention. News is a business, it's about buying readers by capturing attention, under the rouse of educating and culturing people to "things they need to know." Ultimately, we don't need to know the news, it's a curiosity, a surrogate activity. We can live our lives perfectly happy, intelligent, and fulfilled without knowing what the Jones' are up to, just as we had for thousands of years before the advent of newspapers. I simply use newspapers as a snapshot into what the culture values, not as a basis of real truth or meaning. I'm not alone in this though, nor did I create this paradigm.
This phenomena manifests clearly in how little American newspapers reported on the Holocaust. It did not receive headlines. According to Peter Novick's book The Holocaust in American Life, he writes, "If American newspapers published relatively little about the ongoing Holocaust, it was in part because there was little hard news about it to present--only secondhand and thirdhand reports of problematic autheticity. News is event-, not process-oriented [thus, it's concrete, like the majority of common people]: bombing raids, invasions, and naval battles are the stuff of news, not delayed, often hearsay accounts of the wheels of the murder machine grinding relentlessly on...Perhaps another reason for limited press attention to the continuing murder of European Jewry was that, in a sense, it didn't seem interesting. This is not a decadent aestheticism but is in the very nature of "the interesting": something that violates our expectations." He argues that the Holocaust was so far removed from the America value-system and thus interest-spectrum that they just treated it the same way they'd treat a violent novel. This clearly demonstrates how concrete-based mediums are not based in reality, but in palpability and social nourishment; some of the viscera of the production machine.
This points to a very unprincipled point of view. Principles would've allowed America to make a judgment about the Holocaust, which, due to the absence of which in newspapers, shows that it thus wasn't on their mind because it wasn't part of their concrete, immediate-event driven value-paradigm. This does not mean everyone was or is an automaton, but it does mean that most common people choose the path of least resistance, and also that cultural values can be tracked and understood, we just need to sift through all the other bullshit in newspapers to find the common, recurring values. Higher-end intellects need not consult newspapers to identify cultural tenets, they already think independently, but the common, concrete person can use newspapers to identify cultural compulsions, rather than as a social instruction manual. Then, and only then, can a culture actively change itself--which will undeniably change the content and context of newspapers--instead of reading the paper to learn about itself.
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