You’ve seen them again and again. Types of stories or story bits the media pummels to death through sheer force of habit, or something. Certainly not because they are particularly enlightening or interesting.
1. “Duh” studies stating the obvious
It’s bad enough that universities and research centres often chew up time and money on studies that reach such obvious conclusions. But it’s even worse when the media pass them along as if they were some kind of revelation. True that sometimes there is some valuable nuance amidst the generally-predictable gist of a piece of research, but if so, focus on that nuance then.
2. Streeters or Vox Pop
“Man in the street” types of interviews. Well-liked by TV news shows in particular for their unique capacity to fill up air time with something vaguely watchable (the “people like to look at other people” principle) while usually adding no real insight into anything. Or even representing public opinion properly, since the news crew will typically just interview the first few people they can find, then bugger off.
3. Opposition politicians criticize government
What do you expect them to say? “This government is awesome; We suck by comparison, says Opposition leader”? There may be the odd exception when the critic has some special insight into an issue, but generally I don’t see the point in giving standard parliamentary debate any more of a public airing than it already gets. Leave it for CPAC and its audience of eight or so. Everyone else gets bored senseless by it.
4. Grieving relatives
“Gripping” TV images of a sobbing mother whose child has been murdered. Or loud newspaper headlines in the same vein: “GIVE US JUSTICE.” At times like these it’s hard to tell the difference between the news and reality TV shows. Or even fictional ones. Personally I see it as an intrusion into the victims’ privacy at what is probably the worst time of their lives. Sure, maybe it could help trigger an anonymous public tip on an unsolved murder… or it could lead to overzealous public witch-hunts like this. I say leave these poor people alone. The audience can get its cheap emotional kicks elsewhere.
5. Definite maybes
In their overeagerness to break a story the media will often report something that may happen. The trouble here is that, by the same token, it may not. How about just letting us know when they make a final decision on it?