Ace in the Hole Headline

It’s a good story today. Tomorrow, they’ll wrap a fish in it.

 

Every day I feel like I’m scrolling past more and more clickbait.

Between news headlines, online articles, links being Tweeted and posts shared on Facebook, they seem to be in ever-growing-abundance. There’s “What X Gets Wrong About Y”, and “…What Happened Next Will Make You Cry”, and so very. many. more. Are they omnipresent signs on this information highway we’re all driving on? You bet. Are they a new phenomenon? Not on your life.

Take ACE IN THE HOLE.

Here’s a story of a brash newsman, down on his luck, out in the middle of nowhere. One day, thanks to a stroke of incredible luck, he walks in on his first interesting story in a dog’s age. He could serve the public interest and report the story as it stands. He could stick to the facts and chronicle what should be a straghtforward rescue effort. But that only helps him in the short term…it only allows him to be on the ground for a day…two tops.

Instead, he gets greedy. He wants the story to go on…to get sexier, and more emotional…to raise the stakes…and most of all, for people to turn to him to hear the story.

The thing about telling a story; for many then (as now) it’s not enough to recount what is happening. The storyteller wants to be a part of it. Back then it was about selling editions – now its about hitcounts. It’s a mark of pride, like notches on a belt or box office receipt. Avoiding it requires a strength of character that many don’t possess, after all if you’re making your bones on telling other people’s stories, how long until you become restless and want to be a character in those narratives?

Sometimes that happens organically, as it did with people like Walter Cronkite and Edward R. Murrow. Far more often though, it happens through manipulation, and disingenuous journalism…and it starts with sensationalism.

Had ACE IN THE HOLE began with a glimpse of this newspaper page, we might feel our hairs stand on end…our moths water…our hearts flutter. We would worry and fret over Leo Minosa and wonder just what he had done to anger the Native American spirits. But it doesn’t – it starts with a huckster, a person trying to sex-up the story and turn to him for the story. Were he a writer for Fox News, this headline might well read DEADLY CRISIS GRIPS THE SOUTHWEST!

Mercifully, he’s fifty years too early for that.

“Mercifully” for us anyway. Leo’s not so lucky.

 

Here’s three more from ACE IN THE HOLE for the road…

 

Tell the Truth

Writing

Ace in the Hole

 

This series of posts is inspired by the “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” series at The Film Experience. Do check out all of the awesome entires in their series so far