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View Diary: ECSTASY:  The Emotional Narrative (72 comments)

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  •  Who what when where how (3+ / 0-)
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    RunawayRose, G2geek, WarrenS

    is true to some extent: yes, those questions are answered. But who's the star of the show? Compare this morning's oil spill leads in WSJ:

    BP PLC (BP) said Friday it has begun preparing the coastlines of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida for the arrival of an oil slick as the escalating crisis in the Gulf of Mexico wiped billions of dollars off its market value.

    and NYT:

    Coast Guard officials were investigating reports early Friday morning that oil from a massive spill in the Gulf of Mexico had washed ashore overnight, threatening fisheries and wildlife in fragile marshes and islands along the Gulf Coast.

    Both true, but both telling entirely different stories. Who's the hero, the coast guard or BP? Who's the victim? BP's market value, or the fishies?

    I'm not sanguine about people reading critically and taking time to understand what's really going on. WSJ readers will read a story about a big oil business responding quickly and efficiently to a crisis, and NYT readers will read a story about the Coast Guard attempting fecklessly to save the wildlife. I lean toward NYT, of course.

    The only difference in TeeVee news is that there's very little but lead and emotional appeal. It's a rare TV news story that opens up material with contradictions, questions, or different points of view. And if you want those in a newspaper article, you've got to get at least half-way into it--which is usually on p. A14, or a link to the next page of the article, which is where most readers abandon the story.

    •  TV: the emotional narrative. (1+ / 0-)
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      If I was writing this for the newspaper (or for TV, done as a rational medium), I would open with something along the lines of:

      "A massive oil spill is approaching the Louisiana coast, as the Coast Guard and BP prepare to take steps to mitigate what is expected to be severe ecological damage."  

      To my mind that would be reasonable and objective.  BP's share price would go further inside the article.  First would come a section on the ecological hazards, then one on the costs to the human communities affected by the spill, then a section on government response including Coast Guard, and then a section on BP response.  BP's share price would be included in the latter section.  

      I'd probably wrap up with something intended to convey an emotional meaning, along the lines of,  "Whatever happens, everyone involved is preparing to do their best, and to deal with the consequences."  

      A news story of that kind isn't the place for BP-bashing, hence the wrap-up on that note.  And for all we know they really are trying their best, but since this is an inherently eco-dangerous industry, horrible things can and do happen.  

      The policy conclusion that's needed isn't to bash BP for engaging in eco-hazardous biz, but to call for a major conversion to climate-clean power sources:  solar, wind, and nuclear, and a major conservation effort as well.   In other words, fix the problem at its root.  And if BP can prosper on solar, wind, and nuclear, good for them.  

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