The New Journalism

Our story needs some punching up—perhaps a pithy quote—
But there’s no one here to interview—well, none of any note.
Could we maybe find an activist to share his point of view?
Oh, but one would be unbalanced, so we’d better look for two.
Yes, the more extreme, the better, cos we really need the scoop,
And it doesn’t really matter if it’s just a splinter group—
Just as long as they’re identified by something in their name
We can pretty much be certain that their views are all the same.

So extremists show up everywhere to share extremist views
And it’s “wingnut versus wingnut” as a substitute for news.

Context, after the jump:

I probably could have randomly thrown a dart at a newspaper kiosk and hit an appropriate story for this one, but the example that *did* do it was this: A Christmastime fight: Christmas trees vs. holiday trees, on CNN’s Belief Blog.

They needed dueling talking heads for this, so they get David Silverman (president of American Atheists) and Bill Donohue (president of the Catholic League). Neither of these groups is what I would call mainstream. I am not a member of American Atheists, and I’m not certain I know anyone who is (maybe some FtB bloggers or commenters, but it’s not something I have paid attention to); I do know that the vast majority of atheists I know are not (the rest, I simply don’t know). I also have yet to meet a Catholic who had even heard of Bill Donohue; he’s far better known as an object of derision among atheists, and even then, only those who are online activists.

In the real world, both atheists and Catholics (let alone all Christians) vary tremendously. There is no real expectation that they will all agree on any particular issue. They cannot be expected to be well represented by an extremist who earns airtime by giving controversial quotes.

So while most of the country goes about the season just fine, it’s nice that we can find a story that shows we’re at war with one another.

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