Rot at the Top

Had the privilege of listening to a Robert Reich lecture last weekend. He maintains that there are four basic themes that run through most great stories and movies, and that “big” news stories can generally be seen through one or more of these lenses (two of them hopeful, two fearful):

  • The Triumphant Individual
  • The Benevolent Community
  • The Mob at the Gate
  • Rot at the Top

Pick up today’s (any day’s) newspaper and see how many of the top stories can be characterized in these terms. Examples from today’s Chronicle:

  • The Triumphant Individual
  • (new appreciation for Gore, Nixon)

  • The Benevolent Community
  • (new breast cancer drug possible)

  • The Mob at the Gate
  • (terrorism, immigration)

  • Rot at the Top
  • (disintegration of Bushco)

His message to journalists: This is just observation of a human tendency toward oversimplification, and the media plays into it. Maybe journalists have a responsibility to achieve better clarity by resisting the impulse to simplify. You have to hear Reich talk to appreciate the power of these metaphors – incredibly eloquent. Kind of a new Joseph Campbell figure.

Music: Nancy Sinatra And Lee Hazlewood :: You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’

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