Skepticism

News Fart

News Fart is an expression I just invented. It means “a totally unnecessary piece of hot air which stinks up your public news page but can’t simply be ignored”.  You know the type, they’re always about talking parrots or celebrity divorces. You resist clicking the headline all day because you know it’s crap, but after you’ve read every piece of ‘real’ news on the site, you find yourself clicking on the damn thing  anyway, like the moment you can’t hold your breath any longer and have to take a lungful. Unless it’s my own fart which of course smell of baby rainbows and peaches. 

Today I was trapped in a guff-filled elevator with this humdinger:

Prime Minister interrupted by own mobile – but what ringtone does he have?

From the BBC News homepage, that headline was accompanied by a pic of Gordon Brown, and no further information to confirm that the story was as utterly vaccuous and newsless as it appeared. I tried to ignore it. I’ve looked at the BBC News homepage about six times today, and every time, I tried to ignore it. But it wafted. It floated. It most definitely blew, and after having a conversation in my head several times in which I confirmed that I don’t give a flying monkey’s purple ass what ring tone my country’s leader has, I clicked the damn thing.

FINE. Now I know. I’ve smelt the fart of newsless news. I know that Gordon Brown has that awful NEENER NEENER, NEENER NEENER, NEENER NEENER, NEE Nokia ringtone that everyone hates. That’s appropriate, everyone hates Brown, too. But come on, BBC, please. Stop stinking up my news page with the fetid aftermath of last night’s curry.

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22 Comments

  1. I like that expression – news fart.

    Of course, the fart:real_news ratio has been growing for some time now. In the US, this was exacerbated by the increased corporate media ownership and over the top patriotic group think brought on by 9/11.

  2. @Steve: Yep, I totally defined a new meme. Well, it isn’t a meme yet, but I hope it becomes one because it has a recorded history and everything!

    The barfing unicorn should be the mascot for those nights out where you think they’re going to be magical but you end up getting date raped. What, just me then?

    *ducks and hides*

  3. I thought that was called a Fark, not a Fart. I mean, Drew Curtis did write a really good book about this phenomenon a couple of years ago: It’s Not News, It’s Fark: How Mass Media Tries to Pass Off Crap As News

  4. Dorian, my CAG Parrot, just vocally farted in response to your blog … And then did a victory dance … She knows exactly what entertains us idiotic humans … In any case, we both hope you get Rick Astley’d the next time you click on what you characterize as a “News Fart” headline.

  5. Re: Obama ringtones… I wonder if he could commission a version of “Hail to the Chief” from his favorite artist. According to wikianswers, that might be any of the following: Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder, Johann Sebastian Bach, or The Fugees. I’m guessing we can rule out Bach, Davis and Coltrane, unless Obama’s willing to authorize the use of the Supersecret Presidential Reanimation Machine just to get a decent ringtone.

  6. @ChaoSkeptic: Fair comment, but I don’t think ‘fark’ is in general usage (possibly because the website is so aggressive). I certainly wasn’t aware that that was the definition – where does the fart part come in? Craps and farts are totally different things.

    My analogy is pretty well-defined in a paragraph so neener to Drew and his book. MY meme shall prevail! Besides, the stuff I’ve seen on his website the few times I’ve visited (not at all in the past two years, I’d actually forgotten about it) seems to be stuff that’s crap but funny, rather than utterly, utterly mind-numbingly dull. If anyone actually cared what Brown’s ringtone was, then I can imagine it on Fark, but my point is that the story is stinking up the news page because there’s zero public interest, amusement or indeed any content to it at all.

    Fark.com, having just checked, calls itself “Interesting, bizarre and amusing news stories, along with regular photo manipulation contests.”

    A News Fart, as defined by me, is not interesting, bizarre or amusing, so I declare that no, it’s not the same.

  7. @Steve: Steve, you’d be amazed (although a certified skepchick will attest to) how many people don’t get it (about 80%) … It’s not all punny, though – she’s all full of herself and has lived (and will live) a long time without her appearance changing one bit.

  8. @ChaoSkeptic: Further to my last comment, I’ve been thinking about this and have come to the conclusion “who cares?”. It’s perfectly fine to come up with new phrases to describe concepts which have been touched upon before. The idea that some news is a waste of time, or the question of what constitutes news, is as old as news itself.

    There’s no reason I shouldn’t use an extended fart analogy to make a new phrase, and no reason I should care that there’s already a word (that isn’t in everyday useage) for throwaway news, albeit of a different kind.

    So, yeah, I don’t care two beans how similar it is to fark. I made a few people laugh and my descriptive phrase is both poignant and new. That the media continues to print utter crap shows that efforts like Fark have had no impact anyway.

  9. To be fair to the BBC the message was pretty important:

    “Prime Minister, thousands of energy workers have gone on spontaneously gone on strike across the country in protest at foreign workers taking the few jobs there are left in the Britain, waving placards reminding you of your claim to provide British Jobs for British Workers. It’s the first wholly political strike for 30 years and the first of the Depression. Any chance you could cut the skiing in Davos short to come home?”

  10. The Nokia ring tone is a song with words. It’s goes like this…

    “I don’t know… how to change… the default ring tone!”

    It’s not really all that easy to sing well, but give it a try next time you hear somebody play it in public. ;) “Oh, I know that song!”…

    And BTW, both NEENER NEENER and DEEDLE-EETY have too many notes for an analog to the main theme. But some polyphonic phones have a little counter-melody, I think. ;)

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