One of the simplest stories for a reporter to tell is “An important idiot did something stupid”. This can take the form of “Senator is caught taking bribes”, “Movie star gets arrested driving drunk” or even “religious leader says something offensive to people of other religions.”

1000 years from now, assuming we are still around, we’ll still have these same headlines, just with different people.

Since there will always be important idiots in our population, these stories, as a collective, are not news. They do not express a new trend in idiot behavior, nor do they offer any context for how our view of the world should change simply because this particular important idiot did something stupid.

It is non-news masquerading as news. Unless it’s news that this person is capable of doing stupid things, it’s the telling of a story we already know…

Whenever you read the news, or watch Fox or MSNBC, please keep the idiot theory in mind. If the arguing is all about what some idiot did, and how much of an idiot they were or were not, engage your better half and move along.

Scott Berkun, The Idiot Theory of News.

Bonus: See Jihii’s recent post on slow news and hyped scandal.

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    This is such a great point. As simple as it is, it’s something journalists (as well as the rest of the public) should...
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