Revealed

One word exemplifies the current state of the news media: Revealed. It is the subhead used as a lede, as a hook. Revealed can tell someone how to make a billion dollars by 30; the tax affairs of the top 0.1%; the winning habits of entrepreneurs; the 5 steps to a perfect marriage, and, naturally enough, even happiness itself.

Revealed conveys an answer is available, which makes the article worth reading. Many Revealed articles are about improvement, or guidance, in some area of career or personal life. Revealed also retains its older usage: an event or thing that someone would prefer concealed.  In the prurient sense it has never gone out of use.

Revealed is a symptom of the universal reach of information. Relevance, determined by what interests the browsing reader, not what is relevant, is proclaimed in bold letters to assert its value, its significance.

It has come to this stage; it is not a genuine development, through economic and technological forces. The last decade has not been relaxed for news businesses. Declining value in the product, and in the journalist profession that makes it, which must now compete against software and people gossiping in forums, has eroded its self-esteem. Raiding social media to editorialize content, presented as a street poll of social attitudes, or another list of success/failure is well-known. Revealed is a declaration that all is not completely lost.

The news media business needed its own Revealed list in order to comprehend the political currents in the conniption of 2016 which blew up the political equilibrium of the last 30 years. Such a Revealed list would provide columnists with evidence which they were not accustomed to using.

While this phenomenon appears to be the product of recent technological and political forces it is not new. Nearly 80 years ago George Orwell identified examples of behavior and style in sections of the English media which are similar to anything seen in the last couple of years. The cause, the background, to what Orwell observed was the conflict between opposing ideologies: between fascism and democracy, between tradition, the church, and communism, which at the time forced people to choose sides. Today, its manifest in populism and the various forms of globalized incumbency, each with their own types of ethical accessories to distinguish their particular views.

In the closing paragraph of Homage to Catalonia, Orwell created a sweeping and vivid series of images, a montage of insular, contented, England, unaware of the Spanish war, which, through the book, he had revealed in all its gruesome and political horror.

The contrast he struck between his Revealed, in the carnage, manipulation and betrayal in Spain and the Revealed consumed in sleek, comfortable suburbs, of homely advice and salacious stories, is sure and definite. It is the difference between self-centered distraction and information.

©Copyright Guy Cranswick 2017. All Rights Reserved.

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