I vaguely recall reading, some years ago, a little truism that people who read stuff about things in the newspaper were more likely to remember that stuff than people who watched the television. It's a truism that is undoubtedly true, because if I had heard the same thing on television, I might be telling you now that people who read the newspaper remembered more things about stuff than stuff about things. And what I told you wouldn't be telling you much.
I recalled this factoid the other day when I was reading some of the headlines over at the ABC 7.30 Report website. 'Expert warns more tough times ahead for the US' opined one headline - a statement which is true, but which is even worse than that - it's obvious. Or how about this one? 'Young sailor prepares to set sail.' Clearly, the writers for the 7.30 Report had a powerful ability to write things that we would have been able to guess anyway. From reading the transcription of the programs, I might be able to find out the facts of a particular story - but, as anyone could tell you, facts are often the least necessary necessity of the journalistic profession.
If I was going to learn anything new from the news, I might have to go back to the things most unique to the television - the images. Last night, I sat down in front of the ABC news, and did an accurate transcription of the images. Why not? After all, I transcribe words for a living, I had a crack at cat transcription last week, and I even once transcribed the sounds of my flatmate, B. (now former*) at his computer. It would be interesting, I thought, to see what I would learn. And, as it turned out, the thing I was going to learn would be that I would learn things.
In today's breaking news, a house continued to stay put in the ground today. However, elsewhere, an ambulance urgently rushed to a place right in front of the camera, possibly because an important looking man had his face being attacked by a sea of living microphones. A photograph of a man then appeared, which clearly indicated that it (either the photograph or the man,I'm not sure) was deeply concerned with this outbreak of killer microphones. Then there were several more pictures of a man in sunglasses, a truck that wasn't doing much, some dancing people, and an important man in a tie, who was clearly announcing to everyone the important news that he was wearing a tie.
While it is still not known how widespread the killer microphone pandemic is, it's potential impact on the importance of men wearing important ties could be potentially devastating, especially for all those houses that continue to stay put in the ground in spite of the presence of a camera.
Turning to international, domestic, political, economical, military, or historical news, several men struck poses in front of the camera with guns. Then there was a picture of a house, with men walking around it. In the next shot, the house was pulled apart by a truck, which would have been of clear concern to all houses standing still for no reason at all. However, the men, now without their guns, talked unconcernedly among themselves, following which the guns struck a pose for the camera on their oown.
I'm not sure what this story was about actually, but clearly it will be of great concern to the people who are greatly concerned by such things. However, the gun fashion parade was of great success and all guns deserve to be congratulated for the part they played.
This next story appeared to be a power-rock ballad in disguise, since it began with a shot of two people walking barefoot along an empty beach, and continued that way for some time. In breaking developments, lots of people were also standing around in a tent, while an important looking man in glasses was attacked by a large furry microphone. While the plight of important looking men in glasses being sacrificed to savage microphones on deserted beaches by sicko sacrificial death cults remains an ongoing probem in power rock ballads, ships continued to sail about on the harbour in an unconcerned manner.
Shockingly, I was shocked.
This news did not fall into the political, entertainment or sports categories - it fell into a whole other category. Kitten news. First, there was a picture of two kittens, then of one kitten, and then of three more kittens. Men and women are clearly different from kittens, and that's what the next two camera shots established. However, the important thing is that kittens like chasing balls of string and sitting in boxes, as the next shot demonstrated. People reacted to these important developments in the kitten community by standing around and talking, and doing various other things. However, despite these positive signs in the world of kittens, reporters still like walking in front of the camera, talking, and opening and closing their hands in a way that they think makes them look authoritative, but makes them look rather nervous and silly, really.
Nevertheless, the important lesson to be taken away from all these unfolding events is that kittens are cute.
In late breaking news, there was a shot of rats in cages, and then a picture of a person standing in front of the camera. Then there were pictures of people in front of various torture instruments, like an old man in front of a gigantic meat-grinder, and another old man repeatedly banging his groin into a metal instrument along a straight piece of metal. There were more shots of people, and then another one of a rat, and then another one of dancing old people.
Clearly, old people are being harvested for food by evil rats with gigantic throbbing brains and huge intellects.
It was on that positive and uplifting news that we went to the sports and I switched off. It's always best to end with a whacky animal story, I find.
*I mean former flatmate, not former B.
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