Today’s Guardian front page carried a stark headline:
Disappointment loomed large for anyone breathing a sigh of relief at this astute observation, however, as clicking on the link led to an equally stark page…albeit one totally lacking in self-awareness: ‘Japan nuclear crisis—live updates’ it crows, pruriently.
This is the equivalent of writing:
This nuclear crisis is obscuring the suffering of the population because we, the media, keep saying how shit is blowing up, and there’s radioactive shit everywhere, and the water’s boiling, and it’s horrible, and oh my God it’s like Chernobyl and Three Mile Island and Windscale! It’s going nuclear and there’s shit everywhere! Shit!
Sitting alongside this trend for live-blogging panic is the desire for easy-to-understand graphical analyses:
And what could be better for displaying life, death, and potential catastrophe than a traffic light scale and jaunty fonts? We find it slightly odd that the Guardian only seems to class 4,277 dead as an orange-level catastrophe—though at least it merits more than Comic Sans. Or, our personal favourite font for lending gravitas to a natural disaster, Space Toaster:
And, just to make it extra-tasteful, the designer decided, as well as blasting our flagging empathy with incomprehensible numbers of fatalities, to quantify the disaster in units we can all understand: the performance of the Nikkei stock index. Do I want this page to update automatically every minute? Do I ever!
The Scarborough Evening News this week carries an example of a common technique for self-refuting emphasis popular amongst journalists and idiots alike.
These shocking pictures show the ‘unspeakable’ conditions four young children from Scarborough were forced to live in…
By which, presumably, they mean:
The conditions cannot be described in words, as we are doing, so we will let the pictures unspeak for themselves.
Astute Scarborians will also have noted that the headline—‘Neglect mum is spared jail’—makes the protagonist in this particular cliché a headline superhero.
No one can accuse Sky News of bias, beyond the odd lapse, due to understandable human errors.
One assumes that, if these are odd, human-error-induced lapses, Sky must broadcast a lot of humble corrections.