That's a very cool fact, and a very cool approach to take on what might otherwise be perceived or presumed to be a "dry" topic. But it's an all-too-brief respite of perspective in a barrage of pure nonsense. Who decides what is "dry" or "sexy" or not, and why, and for whom? Carroll later makes the point that as wonderful as the Web can be in some areas, it is a "reader-driven medium". Fair enough -- then who or what keeps, say, people such as Carrie Prejean or Donald Trump in the media eye? Not to belabor that dreadful non-story, but at this moment, Sarah Palin's endorsement of whatever the fuck Prejean keeps babbling about has been in the Chronicle's top seven stories on the sidebar all week, and is currently #3.
Is that a "reader-driven" decision or an editor-driven one? Obviously, in the electronic media, it's not even a question, it's a mission statement, an official (if not yet officially-stated) quest to herd the cattle from one contrived hot-button issue to the next, with nary a breath in between. And the Web facilitates this instant-asshole nonsense in a way that print never can, yet print journamalists still feel compelled, perhaps even pressured, to me-too their way through these stories, providing helpful recaps of what everyone already gleaned about said contrived hot-button issue, yet still absent appropriate objective analysis. They help to punt the issue on, again and again, with no real resolution. People just get tired enough of reading about it to stop scribbling their tedious jeremiads to the hapless editor. Apparently that's enough of a signal that they don't have to talk about it anymore, which seems like a cumbersome way of determining story direction. Unless, of course, your goal is more to provide narrative than analysis, which seems to be the case, not as much in print as in other media, but still often enough.
So it's a bit of a devil's bargain the print media have struck in forming their intartubez avatars, where ignorant, abusive commenters are enabled -- even tacitly encouraged at times -- to inflict their shoddy reasoning skills on other readers. This cannot help but have an ancillary effect of systematically conditioning otherwise reasonable people to assume the worst -- about the intent and content of a given story, the writer, and ultimately the news organization promoting the sideshow du jour.
Again, using the example of the Prejean "story" which is not and never was a newsworthy story, this is typically the stage of the cycle where "media observers", the humps who make the circuit for these stupid things, assess the "winners" and "losers". This serves as the short-attention-span version of a denouement, while also implying an actual resolution.
You know who the "winner" is of the Prejean story? Donald Trump. Seriously, when was the last time anyone gave a hot monkey fuck about the Miss USA pageant? It's just like the "teabaggers" crap last month, an inordinate amount of time and attention granted to a small but vocal group of morons, most of whom have no familiarity with even their own talking points. All but the personally vested basement masturbators who flocked to Palin will forget about Prejean by summer, but you can bet your ass that come next year, major corporate media entities will be nesting in that fucking thing on Trump's forehead to stir up pre-pageant publicity.
Since NBC has a vested interest in helping Trump out, they've been the worst about it, schlepping Trump and Prejean onto the Today show (which really is just an interminable vestige of what the show originally was) the other day for Matt Lauer to "interview" them. Whatever they're paying Lauer, it's not enough; I don't care how many shower heads the imported glass-block stall has in the Manhattan townhouse or whatever, but it can't be enough to wash away that stink. But like a good whore, he doesn't really seem to mind. Who says J. Fred Muggs is gone?
But again, this is perfect cross-promotion for NBC, which apparently aired a three-hour finale of Trump's stupid-ass "ya fiahed" show last weekend. Three hours of Trump and Joan Rivers screaming at each other, I would assume. And instead of doing the right thing and flying a plane into the building during filming, they air the fucking thing like they're proud of that shit, and then utilize their "news" division as cross-promotion over some fake controversy created and nurtured by a corporate media -- including the hallowed print sector -- that is on its heels not only because it can't figure out a decent revenue model, but because it has long lost sight of its original mission. This is done over and over again, month after month, year after year, and everyone winks and nods and pretends to be professional people doing honest work.
Maybe when the media players collectively decide that they'd rather be professionals instead of vaudeville shills, and quit catering to retards, they might regain their professional integrity, and we can get more thoughtful stories like the one Carroll describes, and fewer sideshows.