Jack Lule: Myth as Filter

An excerpt from: OP-ED | Lule: Myth In Journalism Which makes sense of one aspect of the process of finding stuff online. The conversational part is not made all that clear here, but is implicit. (See my earlier item for continuity.)

As Myth, News Will Be Crucial But Conflicted In An Online World
Myth and the new technology may seem to be an unlikely pair. But we have already seen that myth has adapted to every storytelling medium from tribal tales to cable television. The new technology is no different. The combination of myth and online news, though, will produce intriguing, paradoxical, perhaps ominous, results.

The information model of journalism, already in great disrepair, will be dismantled by the marriage of myth and new media. News is losing whatever franchise it had on whatever information is. Information is no longer some scarce resource, a commodity that newspeople can cull and sell. Our society rapidly moved from information explosion to information overload. Information is everywhere. From online events calendars to live, continuous congressional coverage, anyone can give and get information online. If news is only information, news is nothing.

Yet information overload offers opportunities to news: as myth. In the throes of all this information, the need for myth increases. People grapple with the meaning of rapidly changing times. People seek out ways in which they can organize and explain the world. People need stories. Myth has long played these roles. Myth has identified and organized important events in the lives of individuals and societies. Myth has interpreted and explained the meaning of the past, the portents of the future. Myth has offered the stability of story in unstable times.

Decades ago, Marshall McLuhan foresaw the increasing need for myth to organize experience in the face of information overload. “You cannot cope with vast amounts of information in the old fragmentary classified patterns,” he told literary critic Frank Kermode in a 1964 interview. “You tend to go looking for mythic and structural forms in order to manage such complex data, moving at very high speeds.”

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