Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Oooooh, my first post of the year.


It's a blank canvas on which I can spew my idiocy, vitriol, and small-mindedness. Mmmmm, small-mindedness.

Today I'm going to bitch about the media. Seems like a good way to ring in the new year. Ring a ding ding.

The other day I saw an article on the front page of the local section of the San Francisco Chronicle that set me off. It was about the results of a poll regarding people's view of the economy. It stated that 52% of the polled voters are pessimistic about California's economy.

Allow me to restate the contents of that article more insightfully: Blah blah blah irrelevant space-taking, soul-sucking, resource-consuming waste of all that is good and meaningful in the universe blah blah blah.

I care about the economy, but I don't care about what random people think about the economy. How is that news? I don't care about man-on-the-street interviews, or field polls, or articles where "journalists" ask people if they prefer puppies or nuclear war.

You there, (yeah, you reading this blog), unless your last name is Bernanke, I don't care what YOU think about the economy. I don't care what my neighbor thinks about the economy. I don't care what my wife thinks about the economy. I'd like for us all to experience financial prosperity, but random opinions about economic growth are not newsworthy, interesting, or productive. They're just noise.

How about, and forgive me if I'm going out on a limb here, the "reporter" tells me some information about the economy? How about contrasting employment or housing figures from 2006 to 2007 instead of non-statistically significant opinion numbers? If, however, your article leads with the "fact" that half of the uninformed populace picked the word "bad" when describing the economy, then, maybe it's time to throw in the journalism towel. Right after one more year-end Britney Spears retrospective, of course.

The sad part of all this is that reading a newspaper is probably my preferred way to get news. Reading articles on the web is a close second, but I slightly prefer the ease of scanning a large piece of paper for items of interest.

The worst way to get news is by watching a newscast. Why do people do this? I know my eight year-old daughter likes having stories read to her, but haven't most adults grown out of that habit?

Hang on. 1963 is calling. They want their interface back.

Honestly, it's an atrociously inefficient way to receive information. If you're not interested in a story, you have to sit there patiently and wait for the next one, which will probably just be a reporter standing in a rainstorm asking people whether or not they like the weather. That will be followed a reporter standing in a mall asking shoppers what they think about the latest poll results indicating how much people love hearing about polls that asked about whether polls are more informative than puppies.

You could record the news and fast forward through these bits, but wouldn't it just be easier look at a paper or a website? Or maybe you could trim your nails by filing them down on the inside of your retina? That would be equally productive.

And, hey, happy 2008, y'all.


Avery Gray said...

Wow! Have you always been this manly? How come I never noticed?


Mike said...

When it comes to slamming inefficient information delivery mechanisms, I am all man, baby.

missburrows said...

You mention dogs three times. Well, no actually four times. (I will wait while you go and count.)

Perhaps Avery should have said, Arf instead of Rowr!

I'm ready for my chocolate pancakes.

Mike said...

Four times? Was it "puppies", "puppies", "bitch", and "Britney Spears"?

yajeev said...

It's good to see that you've held up your end of the bargain about not being nicer in your blog space. That is so refreshing to see someone keep his commitment, if only in cyberland...

...and not that you care about my point of view, as a mere poll respondent, but it is self-evidently clear to me that puppies are infinitely more informative than polls. mine tells me when he's hungry, when he's thirsty, when he's gotta go outside to do his buisness, when (and often where) he wants to be pet... no poll results ever gave me anywhere nearly as useful information.

...and asking what the man on the street has to say about the issues of our day always sort of struck me as like watching actors talk about the deeper meanings of the films they're in on dvd special features (or worse: listening to them talking about politics). i mean, THEY'RE ACTORS. not writers. not directors (usually). not philosophers. just becuase they can act does NOT mean they can speak intelligently about the content of their films. I mean just cuz a dude works on an auto assembly line doesn't make him qualified to discuss the geopolitical ramifications of greenhouse gases emitted by vehicles he's snapped a bolt or lugnut (or whatever such a worker would snap onto a car) onto. since we're on the topic of pet peeves.

there. my 2 cents.

Avery Gray said...

Yajeev is full of great ideas.

So am I. I tagged you.

missburrows said...

Still ready for those pancakes. However, I'm still not sure if they are my "thing."

Can I have more than one "thing"?

Mike said...

Yajeev, would you rather that the actors spoke about the geopolitical ramifications of greenhouse gases? Let them have their little movies.

Avery, remind me to go find the longest and most boring meme available. Then, I'll tag YOU.

Miss B, sure. In 2008 you're allowed to have 3 or maybe 4 things. Knock yourself out.

missburrows said...

Ok, I'll take David Beckham, and Daniel Craig (but only as 007) for my first two things...but need to think a bit for the others.

And yes, those were the 4 dog references.

tinyhands said...

Economists and a great many people care what the man on the street thinks. See also:

There's a case to be made that anything more focused than a regional indicator is too specific (i.e., your unscientific local SF poll on some random street), but even local markets depend on consumer sentiment to some degree.

tinyhands said...

Twas cut-off...

tinyhands said...

Oh poop, search for it yourself:
Consumer Confidence Index.

Mike said...

Miss B, take your time.

Tiny, nope, I'm not buying it. It's not news. First of all, according to Wikipedia, the CCI is computed from actual spending and saving values, and not from a poll. Looks like they also do a survey, which is perhaps what you're referring to.

HOWEVER, not only do I strongly doubt that there's any value in surveying people monthly on their opinion of the economy, but even if it does help some economist do their job, why is that news? Should I run to the newspapers with the technical documents that I use for my job?

Articles saying that AMERICANS ARE WORRIED ABOUT THE ECONOMY is just scaremongering (especially when it's based on a 52% majority).