Trey Parker and Matt Stone... They have a lot to say about storytelling
We can take these beats, which are basically the beats of your outline, and if the words ‘and then’ belong between those beats, you’re f**ed. Basically. You’ve got something pretty boring.*
It’s just like: this happened, and then this happened, and then this happens. That’s not a movie. That’s not a story. Like Trey says it’s those two, ‘but’, ‘because’, ‘therefore’ that gives you the causation between each beat, and that’s a story.
This is among the more concise, actionable advice I’ve seen about storytelling and writing, fields which tend to attract uselessly impractical or vague recommendations. But it is also a perfect illustration of how news is transformed into fiat news. News is and ought to be exactly the thing which Parker bemoans – a series of linked ‘and then’ statements. Holding multiple truths in our heads (#AND) in this way is powerful. It is also boring.
We think identifying bias is very hard to do so systematically.
Fortunately, the concept of fiat news we so often write about isn’t really about bias – or at least, it’s about far more than bias.
We think there are some ways to measure this, so we’re going to try. And we’re going to do it in the open. Let me introduce you to the Fiat News Index.
Using the tools and database from our friends at Quid, the Index measures the proportion of articles from a media outlet which use one of a range of words or expressions I selected. These words and expressions fall roughly into three categories: words that convey a causal link between two statements (Causal Expressions), words that seek to communicate the Common Knowledge element of a narrative (Common Knowledge Expressions), and words that communicate explicit value judgements (Value Expressions).
For me, I understand this index to mean, “If I open the pages of this publication, how much more likely is it than in another publication that I will read a story that is telling me how to think?”
the Index includes four media companies that are not news outlets. This is by design. The unit of the Fiat News Index is the Vox, not because there’s necessarily anything bad or dishonest about what Vox does, but because Vox’s stated mission is to explain the news.
The poles are instructive. On the one hand, we have Vox, and on the other, Reuters. In between, there is a meaningful range.
we are hopeful that this proves useful to you in making up your own damn mind about what the news means. Doing so will play a critical role in our conscious efforts to resist both narratives and the exploitable memes which infect each of our minds.
Edited: | Tweet this!