Reporter's Notebook

The art and science of the interview

Archive for December 2017

Dark Art

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Broken Light Bulb

I was listening to the Friday News Roundtable, a feature of Oregon Public Broadcasting’s “Think Outloud” news program and heard something that made the dark art aspect of my training switch on.  I’ve spent my life in journalism, writing and hopefully, creative thought.  But as I’ve often mentioned here and other places, people with skills can use them for good or bad.  That is, they have the ability to see effective uses for a tool, whether it is doing what some would call creating or doing what some would call destroying.  The thought itself is ambivalent.  Like scientists who never ask, “Just because we can do it, should we?”, a potential application is instantly seen in binary form; it can be a pharmaceutical plant, or it can be a chemical weapons factory.

So, I hear host Dave Miller mention how a new ballot measure, Measure 101, will soon push itself to the front of the attention of Oregonians after the beginning of the year.  The measure, which imposes taxes on hospitals and health care providers, will bring along with it, federal matching funds, giving the state up to $320-million to help it fund its programs.  The opponents to the measure, those same hospitals and health care providers, are no doubt looking for ways (as such corporations are often wont to do) to argue against or otherwise obfuscate the issue.  And in that moment, when one of the guests said, “To most Oregonians, 101 is a highway,” I had it.  “What about,” the dark side asks, “a commercial that is nothing but surfer music and gorgeous shots of the iconic Highway 101 from the perspective of a shiny, sexy red convertable.”  Bazinga!

It would be hypnotic in its beauty and, in a subtle way, make people think of 101 in terms of escape, rather than of trying to understand complicated healthcare tax policy in the dead of winter.  It could help tilt the perception of the voters by confusing the issue in their minds.  Then, the arguments started in my head.  “How can you even think about making such tools, such weapons?”  “Because I can,” says the bad angel.  “You know people wouldn’t be that easily manipulated, don’t you?”  “Wouldn’t they,” asks the bad angel?  “You’re evil.”  “Nope, just fruitful,” smiles the bad angel.

Like ABC’s sweet Robin Roberts calling, “Bye Felicia” after a fuming Omarosa was booted out on her ass from the White House, the dark art of say, language, is in even her.  “Calm down,” says dark angel on my shoulder.  “You win all the time.  I’m just having a little stretch.”


Written by Interviewer

December 16, 2017 at 04:20

Posted in Scratchpad