Saturday, October 09, 2010

The Real Programming

Years ago a radio guy - may've been fire-breather Jay Severin - clarified for me that in media, the commercials are the real programming. The sponsors, who put up the money that makes the station run, like to put their program, the commercials, in a spot that will attract an audience. Thus what we call the show, what we think of as the whole point of the station, is, when one looks at it, actually the advertisement. The show is what brings customers out from the street and into the shop. Got that? If it's a new perspective for you, ponder that a bit before reading on. The commercials are the program. The shows are the advertisements.

In an era of media change and new business models, this is still true, though it now goes through more levels and is somewhat disguised.

In politics, and if you follow the whole news, especially among the Democrats, there is the prevailing opinion that the ideals - the ideas, programs, legislation - are the programming, while all the back-room deals, corruption, earmarks, and influence are merely regrettable necessities in getting the work done. No, it is the reverse. The corruption is the programming, the ideals are the advertisements politicians put out to get people to vote for them.

If you live in Massachusetts, this may be fairly easily grasped. Barney Frank, John Tierney, Sal DiMasi, years of Kennedys and Bulgers. In NH, it's less true, and you have to cast your eye over the entire republic to see Chicago, and California, and Philadelphia, and the long string of Democratic congressmen whose corruptions are coming to light. That the cancer is mainly Democratic may stem from its construction as a coalition of interest groups - though which is cart and which is horse, eh? I'd highlight the Republican offenders as well, but those make the national news pretty easily without any help from me. It's the Page 14 scandals that should be Page 1 that I worry about.

I know lots of nice, well-meaning liberals. As a group, they are less well-meaning than they suppose, but certainly there are plenty of individuals who are no worse than the average Joe in their motives, and often much better. Do not be deceived. The ideals, the concern for the downtrodden, the rooting for the underdog - these are the advertisements they put before you to get you into the store. The corruption is not an unfortunate necessity which they hope to reduce, but the actual product they are in business to make.

Yes, this is easily rejected as mere cynicism, as if what I am like is the point here. Focusing on me, or the parties you think I might support, is the easiest way to reject uncomfortable knowledge. And certainly, you can engage in the usual confirmation bias tactic of thinking of Democrats this doesn't seem to apply to, contrasted with your memory of Republicans you think it does. I'm stressing the word memory here. You might find that your proof examples go back a ways, while the evidence cutting against you is fairly fresh.


a psychiatrist who learned from veterans said...

Your Volokh comment:

"Garrett thought 6 months, maybe even five years would be right. Congratulations. Your state’s mental health budget just quintupled, and these people just lost their jobs, houses, and families."

is sequitur to and makes sense how, nothing personal just wanted to know?

Assistant Village Idiot said...

(The commenter refers to a post over At Volokh. )

Garrett thought that someone who had done what Jason had should be held for a much longer period of evaluation. Six months, even five years. Maybe so. But with an average stay of 2-11 days at acute hospitals, keeping people that long would require 5-10 times as many hospital beds.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Ouch. Garrett was an earlier commenter on that thread. Should have mentioned that first.

Dubbahdee said...

No germaine to your MAIN point, but to your illustration...

Another way of looking at the media business model is that what is being sold is not the product being advertised. The broadcast station is selling YOU, the listener. The print media is selling YOU, the reader to the advertiser. The content is the lure to bring you in so they can sell your eyes and ears to the advertiser.

Not sure how you would apply this to your point. "Who is selling whom?" is not the same question as "who is selling to whom?"

a psychiatrist who learned from veterans said...

I didn't want to get into over there but I was in a seeing non sequitur mood after reading about the case. To briefly recap, a guy is left baby siting, gets drunk, passes out, his wife comes home and upbraids him and he goes and grabs a gun to be able to 'be listened to.' He is taken in and diagnosed as Major Depressive Disorder? Is there a single given fact there that makes MDD your primary diagnosis. I would think maybe Alcohol Dependence/ abuse, bipolar maybe (not to hang on to it too tightly with just those facts), etc. but MDD?

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Dysthymia, if there were more supporting data. Depressive episode if there weren't. Alcohol would certainly figure prominently in my diagnosis. It does seem to be a hasty tag to put on him.

Of course, the diagnosis may be inflated for insurance reasons.