Losers Magazine (tm) Article No. 16 (10/7/95) by Carl E. Person

How News Is Created - Elvis Sighting!

The economy has deteriorated, and losers are where they are, partly because of the way news is created and distributed. If a better system for news distribution could be created, there would be a significant, positive effect on division of the economic pie.

Once again, we cannot discuss media in a vacuum. We have to take into account the multi-disciplinary problems already discussed, such as the excessive regulation (restraint) of capital, which has prevented other, competing media from developing and/or prospering; the lack of competition in education, which has prevented for-profit schools and career training programs from developing which could have focussed on skills need to develop and run alternative media and not the skills needed by the major television networks, national slick magazines and major daily newspapers.

Until other media develop (as they will, including such media as Losers Magazine), we must look at the existing media to try to understand how news is created and distributed, and the problems which need to be addressed.

Media generally serve a constituency (often defined to some extent by locale, economic status and political persuasion), and the advertisers and editorial policies reflect that constituency (i.e., reflect these interests). Thus, the National Enquirer would have a headline story if someone came forward saying that he/she sited Elvis (Presley) in London last week. But the New York Times and Wall Street Journal would touch the story (or even consider it as a possible candidate for publication).

If, on the other hand, U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Reich announced from his office in Washington, D.C. that the U.S. economy has a great potential to possibly show some slight improvement during the next 18-24 months, this would be a major story for the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, undoubtedly appearing on the front page, with a picture of President Clinton shaking hands with Secretary Reich for being the messenger (actually, creator) of such great economic news for the nation.

Thus, news is often created out of nothing, to fit the requirements of the publication including suitability for the publication's constituency.

What readers or viewers need is an accurate understanding of the policy of the media in question to determine if it is selecting and publishing the kind of news which the readers/viewers need or seek.

Losers magazine has set forth its policy fairly explicitly in its description (1st magazine article). The New York Times has an erroneous description, All the News That's Fit to Print, but the slogan is believed in substance by many persons, and helps to maintain the reputation of the New York Times as the main source of news.

The truth is, however, that news is presented only if it fits the publication's editorial policy (which itself is generally not published - and I would love to have an article written by a former editor in chief of a major publication, telling the inside story about this), which it seems is to present mostly macro-economic and international issues which are less able to offend or hurt the publication's advertisers or shareholders, and give the paper an aura of all-inclusiveness so people won't realize that the most vital news lf all to many people is not being published.

The news to which I refer is news of government wrongdoing, excessive bureaucratic actions, excessive concentration of capital, less opportunity for middle class and poor persons, causes for the lower standard of living experienced by the middle class and poor.

How is news found by the news media? Do they have reporters searching alleyways and smokey back rooms to ferret out stories on why many people have no jobs, have an insufficient education, have no opportunity? No. These stories go against editorial policy which is basically don't worry, everything will be ok in due course and no changes or reforms are needed.

Don't forget, the media rely on the government officials for the news they print and can't expect these officials to undermine their political sponsors.

News comes to the media via press releases issued by persons deemed newsworthy by the media. The head of a governmental agency for economic improvement with a $10,000 per year budget can issue a credible press release (the press not knowing how insubstantial the agency or its single employee really are) even though the agency does nothing, is headed up by an ex-con high school drop out who steals the $10,000 each year, and is in the business of ripping off his/her community. His/her approved status as a government official means his/her stories are newsworthy to the publication even if they really are not from any objective standpoint.

In this way, the media is a public relations firm for the present government, its officials, and offers the party line as news. When General Motors issues a press release the same is true. It is news and will be published, at least by the media in which General Motors does its advertising.

If, on the other hand, a reader citizen has a well-conceived plan to eliminate a major economic problem of the country or wants to expose a problem caused by government and/or big business, it isn't news because it goes against the policy of the publication which is to not upset the status quo, not to offend or hurt advertisers, and not to upset the applecart for the shareholders of the publication. Yet, there is a market for exposes and analyses of the country's problems, including the problem of fair division of the pie.

In fact, the market is large enough to employ tens of thousands of persons, including magazine, newspaper, newsletter, radio, television, cable, show publishers, hosts, producers, technicians, reporters, writers, investigative journalists and support staffs, even schools, instructors and support staffs, assuming the public is willing to pay for information which could help to improve their lot.

The problem, it seems, is how to find or create such a market, and the internet seems like a sound beginning.

Internet permits faster and lower-cost publicity for an idea.

For example, the publication of the first 14 articles of Losers Magazine took place within 5 days after the idea for Losers Magazine was conceived, by me. The cost? Only my time and $20 in taxicab fares.

With speed and costs such as this, the internet has got to be a good place for giving freedom of the press new meaning.

The transition from internet to mainstream could take place after a new publication and its market have been established, in what amounts to a reverse of what the major media are now doing, through their establishment of websites (e.g., Newsday and The New York Law Journal to name only two which first come to mind).

What can an alternate media do? It can spell out what is happening to enable individuals to make decisions for themselves instead of being in the dark and entrust those decisions to big business and big government, whose decisions have created the present economic problems.

I'd like to make an observation about electronic magazines (on internet) as a new medium. They can be sent to subscribers through mailing list subscriptions, but this would tend to weaken the value of the magazine when published and available only through a website (such as LawMall-tm). The purpose of a website such as LawMall is to attract visitors (i.e., readers of the published material) who will then get a chance to see other items of interest in the website (which becomes the entire electronic magazine, with the articles being only a component). Also, the user of a mailing list form of distribution of Losers Magazine, for example, would not have the advantage of having all articles available at one place at any time for newcomers or others to read.

The advantage of electronic publishing, by website and electronic magazine, is that the old magazines are not replaced by the new ones, and all remain on the newsstand (or library) for the convenience and edification of persons who may have missed early editions or want to reread some of the articles.

The magazine shelf remains stocked with all editions of the magazine from the first to the most recent, which enables and induces latecomers to catch up and builds a larger readership and eliminates a lot of editorial repetition, and maximizes the efficiency of the publication for reader and publisher alike.

Persons with insight should be able to publish their thoughts in the alternative media (paying attention to the laws of libel, and laws prohibiting unlawful interference with advantageous relationships, of course), by creating their own electronic magazine or newsletters or by sending their information or articles to the editors of electronic media such as Losers Magazine with the more realistic hope of being picked up for publication than if the information were sent as a press release to the major news media.

I end this article with a request to receive information or articles suitable for publication in Losers Magazine, with appropriate credit to you, but with no payment other than the good which could be done when the truth is known. You can e-mail your article or information to me at carlpers@ix.netcom.com.

I look forward to receiving interesting and valuable material.

Copyright © 1995 by Carl E. Person. Permission is given for non-commercial users to send a copy of the data processing file for this work by electronic means to a specific individual for his or her own use, and then only if the entire file is sent, including this copyright notice, but no permission is given for anyone to copy or transmit this file for or to any person for public viewing or downloading. It is intended by the author of this work that the work shall be made available in electronic form only through LawMall (tm).