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Juxtaposition and Necessary Illusion

Can you see the real Olympic story yet?

Look carefully below the fold.

That's it. Right down there in small letters at the bottom of the page.

The area no one sees unless they buy the newspaper.




"Vanoc (sic) forgot to sign the first contract it awarded."

Yikes!!
Is this true? VANOC forgot to sign the very first contract they awarded, and by not signing it they put our community at insurance risk, plus it cost taxpayers money?

Wow. Considering that the story about the hockey players was almost a week old, and that the story about the tardy contract signing was fresh, wouldn't you think that it should be at the top of the page? Especially considering that it had a negative impact on our community?

How could the Vancouver Sun make such a mistake?

Was it an oversight. Poor management? Juxtaposition?

An effort to shield VANOC?

It's the old, "I have good news and I have bad news, and I choose to overwhelm you first with the good news in an effort to take the sting out, and make you gloss over the bad news" trick. Except in this case, the good news isn't really good news to a responsible reader, but it is good enough to fool the gullible and naive, and in the newspaper business, the lowest common denominator is the target market.

It's one of the reasons we've lost trust in newspapers, and for the life of me, I can't understand why colleagues at other newspapers that operate relatively ethically watch it happen and do nothing about it. Even if they are guilty of committing the same sin, which most are, wouldn't it prudent to be the first to step up and say, OK, from here on in things will be different and we will no longer put up with our competitors besmirching news professional's reputations, and neither will we continue to do so. It's a new day.

The Vancouver Sun knew they had no choice but to place the bad news on the front page, and in a creative artful manner they came up with this plan to sneak it by us. Apparently it worked because I think I was the only one at the time to make an issue of it and give it the weight it deserved.

First impressions count, and if VANOC can't get the first contract right, it sends a strong signal to be very wary regarding events coming down the pipe.

Vancouverites are really nice people, and they are respectable, easygoing laid back citizens. In a million years they would not think that they are being manipulated. They live by the "do unto others" credo, and would never believe that a news company charged with delivering truthful reporting could possibly do this purposely. To most, it must seem like a mistake. I love Vancouverites. We give everyone (except Torontonians of course) the benefit of the doubt.

What if I told you that I have another example of a very similar mistake?

How would you feel then?

Not only do I have another example, but the same news reporter is involved (Jeff Lee), and not only is he involved in this second example of creative juxtaposition, I caught him at another time giving VANOC way too much leeway at the expense of our community.

What would you think about this front page now?

I'm not going to go through this whole pictures of newspaper pages examples I use here, but I've been reporting about this phenomenon for quite some time, and if you're interested in seeing how "juxtaposition" and "necessary illusion" work symbiotically, click any of the links below to get a feel for how news information is manipulated. Necessary illusion is a term coined by Noam Chomsky, and it refers to the art of juxtaposing news to make it look like you support one perspective, but you really have an opposing agenda. The dynamic can occur relative to a series of stories, or within one article.

Before anyone goes off halfcocked and puts all the blame on the reporter, keep in mind that a variety of people at news companies influence how the community receives and interprets information. Editors as well as the owners of news companies heavily influence the news. They work as a team, and for the most part they operate within the law, but without doubt, too often their actions are unethical. I'm not so naive as to think my little blog or book will change the way news companies do business. OK, I'm being self effacing, and I know that my little blog and book have mainstream news media thinking twice, and that I've made a big difference, but more importantly, I want you to clearly appreciate that what you see and hear from local news media is not always presented to you in a manner that is unbiased. Occasionally, there is a hidden agenda, and it is up to you to spot when you are being played.

The Olympics is one of those times.


Other examples of artful juxtaposition and necessary illusion ...

VANOC Offices - Taxpayers Purchase Swampland

CanWest Buries Story

Media Undermines a Professional Researcher's Credibility

Newsmedia Inquiry Needed

Mainstream Media - Trouble in Lotus Land

Local Media Stacking the Deck

Sun Fuels Smokescreen

Protesters VS. Paper Millionaires

I have another absolutely killer example,
but I'm going to save it for a rainy day . . .









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