Less than “Super”

It might be the rantings of a curmudgeon, but the world of journalism has decayed dramatically in recent years. (I’d have said “old curmudgeon” but that would be redundant.)

Once upon a time, most people bought a newspaper without knowing its contents beyond the Page One headlines. They expected to be informed and entertained with stories chosen by the editors. Once you got “below the fold” on the first page headlines really had very little to do with the economics of the newspaper, and more to do with informing the reader about how they should spend their time reading.

With the internet, almost nobody reads a single news source from cover to cover anymore. News stories are picked at whim from a Google news page, or a Facebook feed, or Reddit list. People click on those stories that attract their attention, and those clicks are how the news suppliers make money. Headlines, even for trivial and unimportant things are trumpeted and inflated.

Super? or Meh?

My pet peeve, which shows up like clock work, is making “news” out of the full moon. Really??? The moon is full EVERY MONTH, without fail. But if your advertiser is paying you $0.005 per click, you need to drive those clicks. I am guessing that in what passes for the press room these days, the assignment to write about the full moon every month is close to the lowest job on the ladder. Down where the obit writers used to live.

If you printed the above image the size of the typical business card and held it about arm’s length, it would be a good representation of the size of the full moon in the sky. I know the moon seems bigger than that, but a 1/4 inch circle, 2.5 feet away, is about right. For those of you more mathematically inclined, that is about 1/2 of a degree of arc. If you find that hard to believe, hold your hand up at arm’s length next to the full moon. The moon will cover an area about the size of your smallest fingernail.

Now look at this one. Isn’t that SUPER? I mean really, amazingly, awesomely, SUPER-DUPER? Maybe? …Not. The first image is the SMALLEST the full moon ever looks. When the sunlight side of the moon faces the earth, and the moon is as far away from the earth as it ever gets. The second image is the same, except now the moon is as close to the earth as it ever gets. If you didn’t put them next to each other could you even tell which was bigger?

Now… imagine you are some poor cub reporter, and you have been given the job of hyping the “SUPER MOON!” and if you don’t generate at least 200,000 clicks, you’re fired! And now you have to do this every month, over and over… Kind of like the movie “Groundhog Day.”

In other news, we continue to be hunkered down on the boat in Fort Lauderdale. While this is a convenient place to be, it is also expensive, and we need to have a plan to get at least a little bit north before June 1, the start of hurricane season according to the Weather Service and, more importantly, according to our insurance company. Not sure yet where or when we’ll be targeting that. When we are comfortable leaving, and finding a place that will take us, we’ll be making those decisions.

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