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Man bites dog

Basic journalism: man bites dog is a story, dog bites man is not. There’s a political element to why black crimes are suppressed in the media—why the perpetrator is often not shown. However, there is also a basic journalism rule as to why the above graphic is true—the dog rule.

To be archaic: “Hold the presses! I’ve got a scoop!” “What is it, scout?” (picture a grizzled editor with a green visor eyeing up a rookie reporter) “A black man has committed a crime!” (eyes roll). It’s not a story—that’s dog bites man, happens every day.

Here’s a story: white insurance underwriter shoots black teenager dead (and, in fact, we have pictures of said teenager in the junior air corp—a model scholar, dreams to fulfil etc and etc).

And here’s a real story: middle-aged Chinese housewife murders family, stores them in her deep freeze, and EATS THEM one-by-one for six months. CHOP SUEY! runs the headline (she was called “Sue” you see, in an attempt an Anglicisation—Sue Wong, the cannibal killer). It’s a story, a real story, because Asians rarely commit crimes, let alone murders, and women only account for 5% of murders—so you have a genuine man bites dog story on your hands.

News is about novelty—it’s not news Britain is wet, it is news that the climate is changing and that Britain will be like Italy in five years (vineyards on the south coast). The fact is that everyone knows blacks commit crime to a disproportionate extent, including black-on-white violence; and that is why it’s not news. It doesn’t inform or entertain—and the same can be said about stories around women. “Woman dislikes violence, dirt” is not a story—“woman becomes first Marine sergeant to swim bog in Irish ultra-marathon” is a story.

I often say that the left *is* the media and intellectuals—the media has always been characterised by gossip and triviality from its very inception. Daniel Defoe, writing about the first newspapers in his A Journal of the Plague Year (1722), noted their inaccuracy and triviality. The contrast between the “right-wing autist” with his crime stats and the journalist is the contrast between the person who thinks the particular is of interest, whereas for the autist the observed regularity (average) is of interest. By definition, almost, science bores—the media excites and entertains.

Remember, there’s some almost 100+-year-long experiment to test the viscosity of tar that is still in progress (will be for another hundred years). Science can literally be like watching paint dry—more dull than that. Watching paint dry does not generate clicks (unless you’re the unusual type of person who makes it his hobby to do it—then you’re a story, because you’re a weirdo).

So in one respect the way the media is structured makes the graphic above true. The black crime rate is an open secret that is so well-known it’s not worth reporting on—although, admittedly, there is also a politico-social taboo around it (we can tell that because when it is reported it is reported in a certain way).

Exceptional stories, such as the OJ Simpson case, occur when a man like Simpson, who had been coded as white, “acts black”—perhaps in an interracial context (his white wife)—and so becomes newsworthy, precisely because his semiotic was white (Simpson had been introduced into advertisements as, essentially, “everyone’s black man” or the black man who whites like and/or treat as white; then he broke the code and reverted to type). If Simpson had been a black athlete coded black with a black wife there would have been no story—yet he was exceptional in several dimensions, hence he was a story.


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