How Tragic Stories are used to Lull You into Comfort
“You can sell newspapers by occasionally telling the sheep that the world isn’t such a bad old place after all, and that there are still a few good ‘old-fashioned’ values left. This gives people temporary comfort – and increases the impact of tomorrow’s shock horror ‘ain’t it awful’ story!
These are a few of the standard stories used by newspapers:
1. The BYP or Brave Young Person. In this story we hear how 13 year old Anne Do-Good selflessly risked her life to enter a blazing building in order to rescue her sick old Granny.
Anne is shortly to receive the President’s Star brass medal for brave young persons from the man himself. When questioned by 32 reporters and 11 TV crews, Anne modestly said: “I wasn’t really very brave, in fact I didn’t think about it. I love Granny and I knew I had to save her, so I just went in.”
Point of story: Not all young people are vicious hoodlums. There are some decent ones around. (The initiate knew this already, of course, as he hadn’t read the last year of media output claiming that all young people are vicious hoodlums!).
2. The HPP, or Honest Poor Person. In this story we are told how penniless pensioner Molly Trusting finds a wallet with four thousand dollars inside, all in $20 notes. Instead of keeping it, Molly dutifully trots down to the local police station and hands it in. Picture of toothless, smiling Molly handing over wallet to grateful owner. “Don’t think I wasn’t tempted,” says 83 year old Molly “Because I was. But in the end, right’s right and fair’s fair and I knew I had to hand it in’. “If only more people were like Molly,” said Sergeant Ivor Truncheon, “Our job would be a lot easier.”
Point of story: There are still some good old honest ‘salt of the earth’ people around, with good old honest ‘salt of the earth’ morals. (The initiate knew this anyway, as he had not read the last year of the media output telling us that we live in an unsafe world where you can’t trust anyone!).
3. The IBCP or Incredibly Brave Crippled Person. Here we are told how David Invalid struggled against incredible odds to become the all European downhill skiing champion. David, who tragically lost several limbs in an horrific car crash which also killed his pretty blonde girlfriend just two days before they were due to be married, has struggled to piece together the shattered remnants of his life. We hear the story of his terrible pain, the five years in hospital coming to terms with his horrible injuries, and the gradual struggle to win against all the odds.
Doctor: “He was clinically dead when they brought him in, it’s nothing short of a miracle.” Etc., etc.
David; “I owe it all to the doctors. It was nothing short of a miracle.” Etc. etc.
Nurses: “David was just fantastic. He wouldn’t give up. “Etc., etc.
David: “I couldn’t have done it without the nurses. They were fantastic. They wouldn’t give up.” Etc.
Point of story: “You think you’ve got problems? That’s nothing. Listen to this…”
The intended result is to make you feel content with your lot, problems and all. After all, there are so many people worse off than you are.
4. The WWSTC or Workers Who Saved The Company. In this story we hear about the altruistic work force who ganged together to work without pay for one month to save their ailing company. Picture fifty smiling lads and girls in the factory canteen, giving the ‘thumbs up’ sign.
Doreen, who’s been with the company for fifty years, is quoted as saying: “It’s been fantastic. The atmosphere reminds me of the war when we were all pulling together.”
Point of story: Money isn’t everything. Isn’t it great that there are still people like Doreen and her friends around? (The initiate knew this anyway, as he had not read the last year of press output which claims that the working world is populated with brace-wearing yuppies who are screwing everything they can get out the system!)
All of these stories, and more, are intended to make the reader feel safe, secure and snug in the knowledge that the old world out there isn’t such a bad place after all. There are still a few good people around. There is hope.
The initiate knew this all along, as his life is filled with joy and hope! He hasn’t read all the media output about how insecure and dangerous the world is, and he doesn’t need a newspaper to tell him (once every six months) that parts of the world are safe, secure and snug! Of course, the very next day after printing one of the above stories, the newspaper will lead with another shock horror story about how awful the world is, or how terrible are the people who inhabit it!”
- Inner Circle Philosophy (Stuart Goldsmith)