Why the press are in a pickle

Three posts in a day? You are lucky people! By the way, the video is a request. Yep, I’m that desperate I’m taking requests now!

Anyways – the lady-in-the-library (there’s a song or a book there somewhere) asked about the role of the press in all this, and it’s a popular question. Just why, if it’s all a pack of lies, haven’t the press said something? Well, here’s the answer.

Way back in September, 2o12, yet another ‘look at me’ video appeared. It wasn’t fresh or original – there were tons of similar ones already online. So nobody paid much attention – not even Mrs Todd, apparently.

Then, come October 10th, events took a turn with a fake suicide. LOL.

So what to do? Not too much happened at first. It was a basic press report – nothing much to write about. But when the news managed to meet the video – KABLOOEY! It exploded like Mentos in a Diet Coke bottle.

It was the perfect storm. There was no current bandwagon – Kony had gone, Adalia Rose had faded – leaving a vacuum for all the Facebook grief-vultures to fill. And what a brilliant case – pretty young white girl, a little bit saucy, had a little bit of salacious history, then throw in a predator, a bit of bullying, drink, drugs, sex and violence…what more could people want?

It covered all ages and genders – 12 year old girls in need of some sort of shared-experience soul mate; 13 year old boys could have a White Knight crush on the girl they could have saved; 14 year old boys could have a  night fantasy about all her videos; the emos and goths could have the time of their lives. Then you’ve got the middle-aged guys, suppressing all their hidden desires and pretending it was all so sad and meaningful whilst looking for the pictures; the men and women looking for the slightest reason to become outraged by the terrible society we all live; the housewives who remembered that they were just like Amanda at that age. Add to that the ability of Facebook to fill everyone’s timelines so that anyone who hadn’t like the R.I.P. pages felt like a pariah, and the stage was set for it going viral.

So how do the press react? Badly, basically. The way things are today, newspapers have to be damn quick to be first with the news. They have to compete with the almost instantaneous online grapevine to remain ahead of the game. No time for thought and investigation. The best you can hope for – like the Vancouver Sun – is an exclusive ownership of the family for all the gossip.

So what did the press have to go on? At first, all they had was the video, but it was like an Ikea pre-pack of sensationalism, so they didn’t have to work hard, and they didn’t even stop to think for a while. And then, like a gift from God, came the Anonymous nonsense. This was like the Yukon gold rush of headline news.

And so, within days, the legend was set. Innocent young girl; one little mistake; big bad predator; another little mistake; unnecessary bullying; suicide. Set in stone. Just a bit too early.

As we now know, not a lot of this story is true. After a few more days, as the Amanda Todd fan club seemed to grow exponentially, so did the rumours. The R.I.P. pages were beginning to receive posts saying it was all lies; I, myself, remember the first appearance of the videos – rapidly taken down by Facebook, and quickly becoming too dangerous to show if you ever wanted to use Facebook again. Words like slut and whore were being thrown around like confetti, and explanations of what she did were all over. And don’t forget those pictures.

So where did this leave the press? Up the creek. It took them time to cotton on, but it was all too late. Amanda was now the icon, the inspiration to a generation, the saint, the angel in Heaven. The Vancouver Sun and CBC took the view that if they just carried on regardless, it would all go away. There were attempts to blame the post-October 10th hatred on trolls, but that didn’t work. The idiot Patrick McGuire tried to change it into a pedophile hunt, aware that all his information was false. To give them a bit of credit, at least Hypervocal revealed the cutiielover/Announcing Amanda news, along with the Daily Capper details but they, too, couldn’t resist going down the popular predator route.

Mrs Todd – aided by the Vancouver Sun and others – carried on, heads down against the storm. A lie repeated 1000 times becomes the truth. And by this time, there were vested interests in it all. The Vancouver Foundation and the Amanda Todd Legacy Fund were raking in the money; the government had been taken in by it all; it was all a vast mirage.

So where do the press stand now? Well, they don’t say much. But what can they do? Which newspaper or television show is going to be the first to tell the truth? None of them. It’s too risky – the Vancouver Sun, the paper that destroyed an icon. CBC News – the show that vilified the saint. I can’t see it somehow.

But the press is lucky. Give it a year, and nobody will care. Amanda who? She will be replaced by someone or something new – a baby panda, a Justin Bieber sex change, the death of William Shatner, the Royal baby. Something will crop up. No-one will question the legend. When the police close the file, there might be a murmur that they have failed in some way; when the coroner simply says it was a suicide, people might complain, but they won’t care. You might get some foreign newspaper, desperate to fill space, doing a magazine piece – I can see it in the Guardian. But nobody will care. That’s just the way of things.

But you and I will know the truth, won’t we?

This chapter is closed. It will rear its ugly head again, I’m sure. But it’s time to move on – to Aurora Eller. She’s next for the test of truth. So it’s bye bye to Amanda for a while – hello Aurora. And she’s even wilder!

Laters!

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