05 August 2011

The medium of the bread and circuses message

How short is a news cycle?

How long is a piece of string?

Give any story a couple of days and odds are you won’t be reading or watching on Day Three what you were reading about and watching on Day One.

Like Bloc NDP leader Nycole Turmel who – spoiler alert -  was a card-carrying member of the Bloc Quebecois until she decided she wanted to run for what became the Bloc NDP.

Tons of commentary from the scritti politti across Canada. 

Front page of the Globe.

And then nada.

It’s not that the story morphed in those three days.

It’s that the story disappeared.

Wednesday’s front page of the Globe: Turmel.

Thursday’s front page: Hosni Mubarak in a cage and falling house prices. 

First mention of Turmel in the print edition on Thursday? a letter to the editor.

And who the frack reads them anyway? 

The same people who read comments on online stories and that – as it turns out – are the same five political activists writing under one of their dozens of fake identities.

All Turmel and her handlers had to do was come up with a line they could repeat and run with until reporters got tired. 

And so beyond saying she was a federalist and segueing quickly to other similarly bland comments, the Bloc NDP leader didn’t have much of a problem.

Media handlers don’t have to change the channel anymore.

The dog’s tail will wag itself.

Such is the state of politics in the country.

No one gives a frack any more.

Politics has basically been reduced to yet another fragment of the media universe. 

Think of a low rent version of Canadian Idol or Wipeout  - both low rent versions of The Gong Show  - and you are getting close to the impact politics has on the average Canadian.

And while there might have been some difference between federal and provincial politics a couple of years, the disease is everywhere in Canada. 

The local of the Bloc NDP in Newfoundland and Labrador pushes a story that says, basically:  “We have candidates.” 

News media run the story not just as if it was news but with an implicit twist that it was truly Earth-shattering, life-altering news -  Dippers have candidates:  huge changes ahead.

But political parties are supposed to have candidates.

This was not news.

Did anyone look at who the candidates were?

Not a chance, just like no one noticed the candidate list in Quebec in the last federal election. 

The Dippers may be onto something.

In the long run, Danny Williams will be remembered for his guest shots on 22 minutes not for doubling the public debt in Newfoundland and Labrador. 

Kathy Dunderdale – first premier to run the Telly 10.

Not as the woman who carried on Danny’s scheme to sell cheap power to Nova Scotians.

This is the 100th anniversary of Marshall McLuhan’s birth.

Some people are celebrating with a renewed interest in his writings.

His best known phrase is probably ‘the medium is the message”.

Think of it as a kind of Pavlovian conditioning and you will get the meaning:  people learn to take information in a certain way based on the medium itself.

Television  - visual. Short, individual clips. No trail.

Twitter  - No visuals but like TV, short individual clips with no trail.

Get it?

Of course you do.

- srbp -