Metamodern Journalism - much to disagree, but... but...

    Running across Seth Abramson's year-old paean to Bernie and metajournalism, I pulled out this gem:

    "In simpler terms, when Bernie Sanders tells Hillary Clinton that universal healthcare, universal higher education, and a living minimum wage are human rights, she may not realize it but that’s the end of the consequential part of the conversation." - I'm not sure Seth is right for the reasons he thinks he is, but it's a salient point - at that moment, Bernie (or frequently Trump), owned the playing field. Much like Trump with many of his absurd contentions. It's not about being completely right - it's about owning the field, the terms.

    I'm reminded of the "would you sleep with me for a million bucks?" "Like duh." "How about $20?" "what do you think I am?" "We already established what you are, now we're just haggling over the price".

    The description of the combined meta-narratives fits in the "Heads I win, Tails you lose" category. Everything makes them look either smart or in control.

    I firmly believe Hillary had a much more detailed, nuanced grasp of policy and liberal ideas - but how to nail those points to the board, have them the game-changers, the new starting point, the "I own you, now we just discuss how bad I own you"? This isn't about Hillary - it's about our next dynamic, "How We Win... from the Very Beginning".

    You can win by losing and vice-versa. Time can be your friend. I'm rather amazed that this article, updated a week ago, didn't update any conclusions or analysis or just better understanding of meta modernism - so many lessons, new historical data to validate or refute, new angles to consider and embellish and deepen.

    The Bernie race and framing was another meta-narrative - that means 3 at once. How do we cope? And where does Russian collusion fit in the meta-narrative scope - is it also a smart-guy winning meta-narrative, or is this time really an unexpected fog that makes the seers or super-analyst meta-narratives seem not prescient and super-smart - still grasping at straws more forcibly but still missing the point?

    But the biggest issue for me is I don't want to be just carried on by someone's meta-narrative where they always win, they're always clever, and I/we imbibe this contorted nothing-burger news where we're always excited but never really knowing anything.

    Meta? or "Met a..." Somewhere someone's pulling our legs. How do we go forward with no limbs?

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    That Abramson piece was an excrutiating read. Now I understand why you, in your merciful kindness or forgetfulness, didn't provide a link. Or did you like it? 

    It feels like when my nephews sit me down to show me a youtube video of some kid playing a video game; I'm sure there is a form of this activity that makes sense and is objectively enjoyable, but this ain't it. I love DFW's writing but this theorizing of what he is up to doesn't hit any of the right spots for me. Apart from the jargon-laden prose, I don't see what Seth is up to other than flipping the available set of facts around until we start to see a rabbit-duck rather than a duck-rabbit. That's a lot of theoretical weight for a pretty mundane activity to bear. 

     


    It started out as an "In the News" piece, but I wrote too much, then forgot to include the link.

    "Like it"? It had a couple very useful ideas, which is better than liking it. And yeah, philosophical stuff always sounds boring & pretentious, even if it's simple like Jonathan Livingston Seagull. "Excrutiating" is probably an apt adjective.

    He's probably a good example of someone who benefits from Twitter's format. And while I think he misses it that Bernie's just another meta-narrative, or that half of his adulation could use a 1-year post-mortem to see what's right & (much) what's wrong with it, I do think he's identifying something we have to come to grips with in how people persuade and are persuaded, and I'm struck with the idea that *nobody has to commit or lose anything anymore*. Like all those people who prophesied great things from the Iraq invasion, yet they not only have their jobs still - they're the "adults in the room". And all media is like that - they can be 180 degrees wrong, and then it's "but it was all so unknowable", or they can be the stuck clock right twice a day, for which they take 17 or more victory laps, or they can simply parrot what every single other news site is parroting, and the safety-in-numbers approach will bolster their bottom line - they're either right with everyone or wrong with everyone, but no one ventures outside the fence alone.

    And the news system can't sustain its same model from the days of OJ & the earlier Iranian hostage situation that turned us into 24x7 news junkies. They've gamed the system, put out meaningless pap within minutes of any live breaking event, off the AP feed if nothing else, and forget investigative journalism  - people will settle for vapid opinion, and that opinion doesn't have to be researched, and it'll be forgotten much like yesterday's breakfast. We're all Tom Friedman now with that automated Thomas Friedman article generator, whether primitive [here] or more elaborate [here]. You can easily do the same with Nicholas Kristof. The press has been churning out fake news for years, and now they're distraught because these Russian punks or Macedonians or whoever are working their side of the street - for 1/20th the salary. Egads!


    We didn't need Seth to tell us that. Your version is so much more digestible. Style-wise I mean. To the extent I agree with you, it seems like just a part of the broader phenomenon of the failure of the elites. The failures tied to the Iraq war and the financial crisis, along with all the smaller failures of habit in and around, tell us what? That the elites are stupid and venal with the solid moral core of a helium balloon. The press played their role in cheerleading for the war and for the housing bubble (all those brave entrepreneurial house-flipper profiles) and did little to no introspection in the aftermath of either. And it's NOW that you're upset they aren't having a full audit of how they handled Hillary's emails? I'm much more terrified about the failures of the FBI - Comey but also the ridiculously rabid email investigation, and by contrast their suspiciously tight-lipped omerta about Trump's Russia connections. What the hell has happened there? I think the press did a mediocre job, but so many other institutions, formal and informal, of society have just crumbled in their moment of truth. The suboptimal performance of network or cable tv is the last of our problems, honestly. 


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