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margie-fark

I’m a little behind the curve on reading this one, but that’s what happens when you buy super discounted books from the Orange County Public Library Friends of the Library bookstore.

This book was published in 2007. FARK began, as Drew Curtis writes, in 1999.

I sat down at the Relax Grill at Lake Eola with my boyfriend right after buying this book for a dollar and began what would be a few days of introspective thought on what it is I do for a living.

Curtis, blatantly puts it straight. News editors aren’t doing journalism, they’re doing whatever it takes to get a page view. Bleh.

On and on, Curtis writes about what “isn’t news” –  “unpaid placement masquerading as news,” the “out-of-context celebrity comment,” and “seasonal articles,” just to name a few chapters of the book.

After the first chapter, I kept a sheet of notebook paper as a bookmark to collect any revelations I had – and well, there was a big one.

What is news, if it’s not what’s going on in our daily/everyday lives?

In journalism school, wherever that happened to be for you (for me it was the University of Nebraska at Omaha), one of the first things they teach is News Values.

The ones I was able to remember off hand: Timeliness, proximity, conflict, prominence, strange/sex

The ones I had to look up: Frequency, Impact, human interest.

I argue that even when I worked at at FOX station and we had an American Idol viewer panel in our 10 o’clock newscast, that was news.

We are documenting what goes on in our daily lives. And for a lot of people, not everyone, American Idol is a concern worth hearing about. (This was back in 2008-2009, LOL)

The ballpark that has strange promotions to get people to attend, an example in the book, is worth covering, in my opinion. It should be covered because people should know what is going on in their community.

Curtis spent 200-plus pages talking about what isn’t news and making fun of it. The last chapter, called “Epilogue: What should Mass Media be doing instead?” was about 16 pages and I feel like Curtis side-stepped the question.

*Spoiler Alert*

He came to the conclusion that stories have a focus to draw people in and click on it. “Everyone claims to want real news, but no one really does. The great unwashed masses want the titillation Mass Media provides,” Curtis wrote.

Isn’t that the truth? I know with social media, particularly Twitter, I have 140 characters to find the one element that will make a reader say, “What?” and move the cursor over the link and physically push down on the link to my news station’s website. I have to be very convincing.

In a sub-heading called “The Future of Mass Media” (which I guess is really now?), Curtis gets it right:

“Local video is the one thing local TV can do better than anyone else. Local TV should be beefing up its Web site offerings…”

This, in the words of Chris Traeger on NBC’s Parks and Recreation “literally” made me go DUH!

I love raw video. I can remember the first time I put raw video on the website of the station I was working for. I was the weekend assignment editor at FOX 42 in Omaha. Santa was flown by helicopter to the children’s hospital and we had video of him arriving. It was super cute. I had to have the director run it through the board so the encoder could capture the video and  I could clip it in the CMS. What fun those days were!

Overall, the book was a great read and I honestly now consider with most any headline I write if FARK would make fun of it.

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