But with so much competing noise out there, that template is rarely sufficient anymore. So journalists take every piece of news, however routine, and stick it through a Marshall stack turned up to 11, stomp on the adjectival overdrive and invite jaded readers to stick their heads inside the PA.
In this journalistic world of constant high volume, every story is Metallica. There are no dynamics. The entire media is shouting ALL the time because they're worried that if they pull back on their Tube Screamers their highly compressed copy won't be heard over all the other sources of distraction.
Amping up the story used to be the preserve of tabloid media, where every development was startling and dramatic, even if it just involved a point of order at a council meeting. But even old Aunty ABC is flashing the devil's symbol these days and cranking it up on every story to the point that you feel you're stuck in the front row at a Black Sabbath gig without a set of earplugs. Take this piece from the ABC online:
"The Qantas political brawl has escalated dramatically with an extraordinary suggestion that Opposition Leader Tony Abbott had prior knowledge that Qantas was to ground its aircraft."If it were me subbing that piece, I'd ask the reporter 'who says it's dramatic?' Is it more dramatic than, say, the public killing of Gaddafi? Will we still be talking about this five years or even five days from now? What makes the suggestion 'extraordinary' compared with every other claim and counter-claim that ricochet around the press boxes in parliament house every day? And who says it's 'escalated'? When was the last time a reporter wrote that a public row had 'diminished'? They always 'escalate', don't they? Theres's no light and shade any more. It's all a journalistic three-chord thrash. And then in the second paragraph:
"Mr Abbott was forced to deny the claim in Parliament, saying he heard about the grounding only a few minutes before it came into force on Saturday."Who forced him? Was he dragged kicking and screaming to the dispatch box? Did Julia Gillard - like Laurence Olivier in Marathon Man - strap him into a dentist's chair and threaten to yank out his molars with a pair of pliers?
Just in case we weren't yet awed by the volume, the reporter then chucks in another power chord, telling us that Transport Minister Anthony Albanese had "made the extraordinary suggestion that the Opposition may have colluded with Qantas to 'orchestrate' the lockout and grounding". Again, who says it's 'extraordinary'? An alien invasion is extraordinary. A cure for cancer is extraordinary. A suggestion by one political party about its opponent is not extraordinary. What is wrong with simply stating the facts, like this:
Transport Minister Anthony Albanese has questioned whether Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, despite his denials, was part of an orchestrated campaign with Qantas to lock out its workers and ground its planes.It's a good story on its own. You don't need the effects pedals. So spare us the launching of stinging attacks; the firing of angry salvos, the delivery of broadsides, the dramatic upping of antes, the unleashing of bitter tirades and all the increasingly blunt tools of the journalistic arms race and just tell us what happened.
When you've covered a war or a famine, you can pull out the big, fat end-of-days adjectives. Until then, spare us the migraines and turn down the volume. Please kids.