When Headlines Encourage Distraction

Feeling Rotten, Part 1


Image by Mike Luckovich of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

You could probably write the New Year’s tips in your sleep.

First, there’s the worst-and-best-of lists:

  • Best movies
  • Worst Twitter quotes
  • Best albums
  • Worst-dressed hip hop artists

Then there’s the concoction of clips of actors who died, celebrities who divorced, and top dogs who won first place in beauty contests.

There are the hang-over cures, how-to-ask-your-boss-for-a-raise advice, and diet tips.

This year, wordsmiths want to pluck us from our blue-tinged haze of the “worst year ever” and get on with life.

But I’m feeling rotten and I’m not ready to leave my despair behind.

Besides: the Best-Worst lists and diet diatribes mean that we are—once again—distracted from the hostile animus gripping our nation.

We’re more interested in Brad and Angela’s parting shots than the shots that murdered 39 innocent souls in Istanbul this week.

I don’t want to “get on” when misogyny and racism beckon.

My first reaction to the New Year was to cancel my subscription to a print magazine that coalesces the week’s news into bite-sized portions.

When I called to cancel, the friendly customer-service rep asked if I would share my reason why.

I couldn’t face one more cover story about the president-elect, I said.

The rep didn’t even try to talk me out of it.

Over the last months I ripped the covers from each issue because the Tangerine Twit’s face offends me.

I found I could block his name from appearing on my computer’s browser and search engines.

But the block doesn’t affect my daily dose of online news from The New York Times, The Guardian or The Washington Post…and I feel sick to my stomach when I see headlines that fall into two groups: those meant to distract us and those that breathe life into bald-faced lies.

The distractions include the needling to “get on with it” by spending cash on self-improvements, diets and gym memberships.

And then there are the lies, such as the false news that Sprint created thousands of new jobs thanks to the Twit.

Truth is, the Sprint deal was brokered long before the 2016 US election and without fiddling from the Twit’s teeny paws.

And yet the headlines make click-bait:

“Drumpf takes credit for jobs” and “Drumpf touts plan by Sprint.”

Stop giving the Twit the headlines he wants.

Says Greg Sargent of The Washington Post:

Pretty much everyone already accepts that [his] nonstop lies and embellishment pose an unprecedented challenge to the news media.”

“It’s obvious [he] will strategically employ exaggerated announcements of ‘saved’ jobs to rig the headlines in his favor, maybe it’s time to rethink how to handle that, too.”

Sargent argues news media should call out the lie:

“If the known facts show that his claims are false or outright lies, the headline should clearly indicate that, too.”

3 January 2017

Cartoon by Pacific Northwest native Mike Luckovich of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Luckovich is an award-winning satirist who received two Pulitzer Prizes.










Postscript: Today’s blog is the first of three that emerged from the despair I share with my friends who value kindness, fairness, intelligent decision-making, equality, ethics, honesty and mindfulness.

As I wrote in my last blog, viewing and reading the news—my window on the outside world–demonstrate our values are being shredded without regard for individuals and communities in favor of those who will benefit from the loss of our healthcare, voting privileges, quality education and honest work.

Many of our leaders-to-be aren’t being held accountable on several levels: on the level of integrity and honesty; on the level of making known their special interests in government-driven projects that are designed to serve the public good; and ethical decision-making driven by fact-based information that serves the bulk of Americans rather than an elite cadre of cronies.

Thanks for listening, and stay tuned for parts 2 and 3.



About Cynthia Coleman Emery

Professor and researcher at Portland State University who studies science communication, particularly issues that impact American Indians. Dr. Coleman is an enrolled citizen of the Osage Nation.
This entry was posted in american indian, ethics, fucktrumpet, integrity, news bias, politics and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to When Headlines Encourage Distraction

  1. Pingback: When Headlines Encourage Distraction | Cynthia Coleman Emery's Blog

  2. Maria DePriest says:

    Oh, Cynthia. How do we resist this massive force? Well, we just have to but it does cause despair. Now the anger must kick in. Much love, Maria

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Cynthia, this is a time of madness, I am glad you are taking care of yourself. I am doing my best to care for self and others.It is good to have company, eh?


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