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Saturday, February 22, 2020

How Modern Journalism Divides Us

How Modern Journalism Divides Us

If you want deeper insight into the divides that fracture America, you need to read this excerpt from Ezra Klein’s new book, Why We’re Polarized. If you don’t have time for anything else in this edition of The Galli Report, read this. As a journalist for 30 years, I think his analysis is spot on. One tantalizing quote among many others I could have chosen:
The news media isn’t just an actor in politics. It’s arguably the most powerful actor in politics. It’s the primary intermediary between what politicians do and what the public knows. The way we try to get around this is by conceptually outsourcing the decisions about what we cover to the idea of newsworthiness. If we simply cover what’s newsworthy, then we’re not the ones making those decisions — it’s the neutral, external judgment of news worthiness that bears responsibility. The problem is that no one, anywhere, has a rigorous definition of newsworthiness, much less a definition that they actually follow.
The Power of Irrational Ideas
“The 11 rules of succeeding with nonsensical ideas, according to an advertising legend” is at turns silly, disturbing, thought-provoking, and fun. From #5, “A Flower is simply a weed with an advertising budget”:

In attempting to make advertising a game of efficiency, we’ve completely lost sight of a large part of what makes advertising work, namely that it’s 1. costly to generate 2. costly to deliver, and 3. in many cases, displayed indiscriminately. But it is exactly those things that make it so effective. Trying to make something efficient and trying to make something effective are not the same thing. Flowers discovered this 20 million years ago. We’re still catching up.
Pastor’s Nightmare: 3,000 Baptisms NOW!
It was the first pastoral crisis in the church, the day (Pentecost) when 3,000 people decided to repent and be baptized in Jesus’ name. The early believers didn’t even have a building, let alone a baptismal tank (it would be a few years before baptizing by sprinkling would be the norm). What to do? You don’t want these new believers changing their minds waiting interminably for their turn! New Testament professor Scot McKnight examines the options that scholars have considered.
Marie Kondo and the Minimalist Craze
The title of this piece, which includes a phrase about the “empty promises” of Marie Kondo, is a bit too cynical in parts for my tastes. For example, Kondo’s promises only mirror our hopes, which are also sometimes empty in their own way. In any event, there was plenty of thoughtful commentary about our yearning for a more simple life, with a fair amount of spiritual yearning woven in. We boomers recall having heard and felt a lot of this back in the ’60s.
It is an abstract, almost nostalgic desire – a pull toward a different, simpler world. Not past or future, neither utopian nor dystopian, this more authentic world is always just beyond our current existence, in a place we can never quite reach. Perhaps the longing for less is the constant shadow of humanity’s self-doubt: what if we were better off without everything we have gained in modern society? If the trappings of civilisation leave us so dissatisfied, then maybe their absence is preferable and we should abandon them in order to seek some deeper truth.
When Did We Become Taken with Spandex?
Apparently, it was on July 30, 1984, the day after American Alexi Grewal won gold in the 1984 Olympics. Or maybe the day before. At any rate, here’s the story as told via video by at-the-time bike shop owner Ali Selim.
Grace and peace,

Mark GalliMark Galli

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