October 23, 2005

Newswriting: It Ain't Necessarily So - P, I, 1

Kubla Khan, Or A Vision in A Dream. A Fragment.

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree :
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man

Down to a sunless sea.

So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round :
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree ;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.
But oh ! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover !
A savage place ! as holy and enchanted
As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover !
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced :
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher's flail :
And 'mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean :
And 'mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war !

The shadow of the dome of pleasure
Floated midway on the waves ;
Where was heard the mingled measure
From the fountain and the caves.

It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice !
A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw :
It was an Abyssinian maid,
And on her dulcimer she played,
Singing of Mount Abora.
Could I revive within me
Her symphony and song,
To such a deep delight 'twould win me,

That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome ! those caves of ice !
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware ! Beware !
His flashing eyes, his floating hair !
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.

Murray, Schwartz, and Lichter make brief reference to Coleridge in their opening. Of course, this is an opportunity to bring literature into newswriting. Coleridge's "Kubla Khan" almost describes the pleasure dome that society aspires to reach: it is a land of music, a glutton's paradise, lovers lair, airiness, and sunshine, but at the same time, it is protected by ice. In many ways, consuming a newspaper has a similiar feel. We seek things that stimulate us; therefore, we seek news that stimulates our emotions to our specific level of need or desire. It is interesting to note that sometimes, this news comes with a thinly veiled layer of ice, that can be easily shattered because the fail is indicative of misleading facts. These misleading facts act as a coating to cover our pre-packaged stories. The average reader is not going to have time to check statistics and refute them. It is interesting that our authors also went Russian with their lingo for two sentences. "Investia nye Pravada, y Pravada nye Investia," which means, "The news isn't the truth, and the truth isn't the news." This is indicative of the carefulness with which we, as readers, need to sift through newspaper articles. It is difficult to discern fact from fiction, truth from lies, in these days of instaneous news that, generally, caters to some sort of special interest group. In general, people are still going to be inclined to read or to listen to or to buy or to consume from whatever producers agree with their individual ideologies, despite whatever the actual "truth" may be.

Posted by KatieAikins at October 23, 2005 3:10 PM