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  • Writer's pictureStephen Balogh

News distribution as acid rain

As soon as I read this suggestion from a friend, that the news distribution is rather like acid rain, it struck me as an entirely appropriate metaphor. So exact, in fact, that I googled it to see who had come up with it first.

Imagine my surprise when every permutation of “news” and “acid rain” resulted in news articles about acid rain, and not a single entry indulging in meditation about their metaphorical resemblance.

It is possible that it happens to be one of those “can’t see the (stripped) wood for the (denuded) trees” permutations of words that inherently mask what you are trying to find, of course. In around 2006 when I started on a piece of work at a global bank supporting its credit derivatives trading team, for instance, to learn a bit more I attempted to search on CDS (aka Credit Default Swaps) but I was swamped with entries relating to CDs (compact discs). We’ve all had such an experience with searches from time to time, though these days I would half expect a “CDs” search to result in an updated version of the response “I don’t think we’ve got any gramophones here, grandad” (look it up).

A drip, drip, drip rhythm, effect undiscernible at first but eventually making its corrosive effect felt through the chemical reactions of its constituent irritant compounds. On morale. On outlook. Irritant compounds that are parasitical (I’m sure this is not the correct chemical or biological term) to the pure water host they dissolve themselves into.

I’m into dangerous territory here, of course, the fraught area of politicised news, exercised through emphasis, omission and the insinuation of editorial lines. Perhaps this is because I am old enough to remember when BBC Newsreader Peter Woods, who happened to live around the corner from us, er, read the news, nothing more and nothing less.

So how to counter the damage? Mitigate its effects by rationing exposure to it? Or try to fix the problem at source? The clamour with real acid rain was to fix at source. How might this be done for the news?

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