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Seeking the new and novel

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A verdict may be news but news is not a verdict

By John Bartlit

The current Age of Anger feeds on daily news that reports and receives public gripes.
Mainstream news is a prime venue for bouts between camps of adversaries, called “strategists.”  
The most public value of the medium, apart from entertaining joy rides or rant fodder, depends on whether its role is understood. What is news and how does it fit in?  
To explore news, I make up a typical, but imagined, news event. I do it to disrupt political habits.  
Any real event would distract from the subject.  Irresistibly, minds would settle on this side or that of the deed and its actors’ stereotypes instead of looking at what news is. Human nature is our problem.
First imagine that sand gets into some water mains in the gambling Mecca of Las Vegas. A high roller spots sandy stuff in his ice at Caesars Palace. He gripes.    
Imagine you are a reporter assigned to the story.  What do you do?
You may drive to the scene to size up what you can of the problem. To trace responsibility, you are soon making phone calls to city officials to learn what happened and how it happened. The top officials are busy with calls from other reporters, so you call officials lower down the listings.
One tells you that sand got into some city water mains. You ask, “How?”


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