These days, the media are so addicted to soundbites that a politician could sit in a studio and deliver a three-hour-long speech right to the camera, only to have that speech sampled by a journalist, edited down in the studio by the producer, and presented on air as a miniscule three-second-phrase. The meaning of that phrase is then hugely exaggerated by the reporter, presented to the public as a shocking scandal, a concerning development, a contemptuous sneer, or irrefutable evidence of the coming apocalypse, and subsequently completely ignored by the public while being repeated by reporters for weeks on end.
We've come a long way from the days when Dr Johnson and the likes would reproduce the speeches of parliament, verbatim, in their newspapers for pages on end.
It won't be long, now, before we get a news report like this:
NEWSREADER: And there is outrage in parliament today over a preposition uttered by the by the Opposition Leader, Malcolm Turnbull, that indicates a possible change in Opposition policy to the ETS.
REPORTER: It all started out normally.
MALCOLM TURNBULL: ... and...
REPORTER: But then, things got very ugly indeed.
TURNBULL: ... on...
REPORTER: The Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, immediately delivered this scathing rebuke!
KEVIN RUDD: ... so...
REPORTER: However, Mr Turnbull has insisted that his preposition was unfairly taken 'in context'.
MALCOLM TURNBULL: Too...
REPORTER: It is not known what will happen now, but clearly Turnbull's statement means the end of the world. Until next time.
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