Old News

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The amount of news bombarding audiences on a daily basis seems overwhelming. But according to an internal memorandum inadvertently released by a major media company, the clutter is an illusion. That’s because there is no new news.

The truth, as detailed in the memo, is that in all of history there have always been only six events to report: Celebrity Stupidity, Death, Disasters, Disease, Government Ineptitude and War. News purveyors simply rotate the same stories on a set schedule, changing dates and the names of people and places as necessary.

Here’s how the deception works. Publishers and producers meet biweekly to decide which of the six topics will fill newspapers and airwaves for the next fourteen days (two weeks is considered the maximum attention span). The choice may be influenced by what’s actually happening in the world, but current events are not always of major concern. Instead, media conglomerates rely on polls to gauge the public mood, and then choose stories that either cater to the prevailing atmosphere or change it.

The time of year can play a role in the decision making, too. For instance, Disaster stories play particularly well around holidays, and Government Ineptitude tends to get more coverage during election cycles.

Topics can also be combined to lend to the appearance of fresh stories. As an example, Celebrity Stupidity and War have endless variations. Death and Disaster are also a winning combination. For a triple play, Government Ineptitude can be added.

While both news aficionados and casual followers may be dismayed to learn how news is created, experts are not surprised. “This story has been written before,” says one. “It’s old news.”

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