The news doesn’t make sense all the time – or even most of the time, especially if you read the paper upside down. So why should we insist that news coverage makes sense? I’m calling for a news that throws an unintelligible line in there every so often just to mess with people.
The trade deficit rose in February, contrary to an expected decrease, according to a government report Thursday.
“Interestingly, that growth was not oil-related,” said Drew Matus, economist with Lehman Brothers.
The word “interestingly” stands out here, given that this is one of the least interesting news items I’ve ever seen. I suppose there’s someone out there who’d just told his Toastmasters club “Well, of course the trade deficit will have risen in February, just think of the oil-related growth” and their mind will be absolutely blown. But for the rest of us, it’s a competent if not particularly thrilling snapshot of our economic life.
And yet that second sentence speaks to me, probably because of its bizarre confidence that I will be knocked on my hinder when I realize the oil-related growth I expected to fuel February’s increase in the trade deficit never came through! Sentences like this clearly need to be used more often if we are to create an ecology of news coverage* that makes room for nonsense.
So let’s try a few examples.
WASHINGTON – General David Petraeus told Congressional leaders today that recent gains in Iraq are fragile.
“Interestingly, I brought a potato to this hearing,” said Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat from Vermont.
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – NASA officials say they’re confident this week’s launch of Shuttle Discovery will be a success.
“Interestingly, the Scrabble dictionary includes several two letter words I never heard of before,” said Elsie Durgentwanger, science analyst for Moderate Carrot Monthly.
MOSCOW – Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to be sworn in as Prime Minister not long after leaving office, officials say.
“Interestingly, Neil Peart and Geddy Lee have no plans to marry,” said Lynn Deskset, choreographer for the “Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s Favorite Ice Fishing License Violation Bloopers, Volume 5.”
I think we’re onto something.
* At a conference years ago, I heard someone refer to something that wasn’t an ecology as an ecology. This most certainly belongs in my ecology of nonsense-friendly news!