Perhaps it’s inevitable, but just this month we’ve seen an especially strong wave of what I call “Duh” journalism –- stories that sound interesting and are sure to get attention, but really don’t say much of anything at all.
Mostly, I blame sites like the Huffington Post and the Drudge Report, which do a terrific job of attracting attention to such stories with eye-catching headlines -- along with the traffic-driven news outlets that can’t resist feeding them red meat, even if it’s kind of tainted.
That isn’t to say the initial headlines aren’t newsworthy, necessarily. It’s just that they’re virtually meaningless when stripped of context, which our instant-gratification world tends to do.
A few examples:
CONAN O’BRIEN OPENS TO BIG RATINGS, BEATING LENO!
After all that promotion, did anyone expect different?
The next day:
CONAN’S RATINGS FALL ON NIGHT TWO!
Well, duh. Check in about a month from now for a truer snapshot of where things stand.
CONSERVATIVES WATCH POPULAR PRIMETIME SERIES!
Um, who did you think were watching all those older-skewing CBS crime shows and “Dancing With the Stars,” Rahm Emanuel and his brothers? As I noted in a recent column, the truth is that most of primetime on the broadcast nets is inherently (indeed, traditionally) conservative because it aims for a broad, middle-of-the-road audience, complaints from the Parents Television Council notwithstanding.
And no, I’m not just skewering this particular bit of reporting because it comes from the new-look Hollywood Reporter; consider that a bonus.
KEITH OLBERMANN SUSPENDED!
OK, that was news when it happened.
KEITH OLBERMANN DOESN’T APOLOGIZE TO MSNBC!
This certainly wasn't news to anyone who has followed his career.
KEITH OLBERMANN REINSTATED!
What were their options, promote Ed Schultz?
KEITH OLBERMANN RETURNS –- AND APOLOGIZES TO EVERYONE BUT MSNBC!
KEITH OLBERMANN's RETURN GETS HIGHER-THAN-USUAL RATINGS!
So many “Duh’s” you could practically play “The Pink Panther” theme.
Granted, nobody is immune from “Duh” moments, but too many make a genuine habit of it. Like the Wall Street Journal, whose Amy Chozick recently pointed out that cable is producing a lot of really swell dramas these days, for which I called her to task at the time.
And for this they just tried to double the price of my home subscription?