Are journo-bots generating today’s media stories?

August 25th, 2006
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It’s a fair guess many of our readers share our observation of a predictable cyclicality to many types of news events. The coverage of terror arrests has become particularly annoying. The media and political classes’ craven political correctness results in many of these stories adding little that’s new conceptually. Only the names, dates and locations change.

Some could virtually be pre-written by journo-bots. What if they actually were?

The journobot’s news-o-tron is electronically activated by any announcement of the arrest of terror suspects. The software quickly places the key facts.

The journobotic software was easily able to digest and sort last weekend’s news that three Tamil-Canadians were arrested in the U.S. while allegedly trying to arrange the purchase of weapons, including anti-aircraft missiles, for the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka.

A minor wrinkle seemed to confuse the software: One member of the group reportedly told U.S. border guards they were heading south to attend a “stag party”. Normally the software sternly filters out such unwitting humour.

Subsequently, either within the initial Botreport v.1.0. or immediately thereafter, our surprisingly lifelike journobots insert digitized quotes of squirming law enforcement officials claiming either that the terror suspects don’t belong to any identifiable group, or if they do, that they’re not – absolutely, definitely, for sure not – representative of the group as a whole.

The next day the journobot’s ground-penetrating radar and infrared sensors scan for utterances from the non-group that’s non-representative of the non-terrorists. Sure enough, the non-group reiterates the claims of the police spokespeople. Rather than, oh, I don’t know, calling on its members to aid their adopted country’s fight against terrorism.

Then its spokespeople reach for their own computerized cliché-generators, which emit audio clips moaning ritualistically about fears of a “backlash”, “stereotyping” or “stigmatizing”.

The latest software iterations contain special, free public relations accessories that generate automated demands for meetings with government officials to press the group’s demands. Such was the case in today’s reports concerning the Tamil Canadian Congress.

The Tamils’ letter to the RCMP commissioner is an instant classic in the annals of journobotism: “The allegations involve [a] few individuals who happen to be Tamil. We stress that nothing more, and nothing less should be derived from that.”

Right. The fellows trying to buy arms for the Tamil Tigers just happened to be Tamils. They could just as easily have been unemployed Icelandic fishermen. Or Pategonian gauchos seeking relief from the brutal southern winter.

Nothing to do with them actually being Tamil. Except of course that the latest arrestee once worked in a senior role for the Congress, and that three of the others were “student leaders”. Strangely, one journobot failed to filter out these apparent inconsistencies in today’s reports.

The journobot software, as advanced as it is, still contains a few bugs. One of these occasionally causes the mask to drop and the non-group to reveal some of what makes it tick.

Again from the Tamil letter: “We are deeply concerned at the allegations and the media publicity…” (Emphasis added.)

There you have it. What bugs them is the bad publicity. Not, say, the fact of the slaughter in Sri Lanka. Nor that young Canadians of Tamil ethnicity may be in the thick of the support network that’s keeping the killing machine going. Nor the outrage that murderous domestic politics from half-way around the globe have been transplanted to Canada. Nor that the large majority of Canada’s 300,000 Tamils presumably came here to escape all that.

No, none of that. What’s bad is that Canadians are learning about it.

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