Wednesday, 13 July 2011

The WGAFA Point

One thing that many independent bloggers will be aware is what I refer to as the WGAFA point.  For many it doesn't have such a succinct name but many of us who monitor the mainstream media will recognise it in their own way.

What became known to me as the WGAFA point came about some years ago during my time in higher education.  On my particular course, students were repeatedly tasked with creating presentations to the groups.  Part of that involved lecturers repeatedly asking us to cite our sources as though somehow we were incapable of original thought.  It became something of a pain because these presentations were really of little worth or consequence and looked more like an effort to get the students to fill the lecture with content and absolving lecturers of that responsibility.  After labouring for a number of weeks to identify good sources, we began to notice that lecturers showed no familiarity with any of our sources and that citing your sources was simply a mantra that was trotted out parrot fashion.  We therefore decided to test it out.

Firstly we started making sources up for our presentations and watched as our lecturers nodded sagely demonstrating what a fruitless exercise it had become.  So we decided to push it.  We came up with the mythical reference of Wgafa..  Wgafa didn't exist as it was an acronym "who gives a f*** anyway".  Ultimately we retired the reference but in more recent years I noticed that in the modern news cycle we often see what I now refer to as the WGAFA point - the point at which a story has aged so that people cease to be bothered about what was true and what was false in a news story.  We often see it where in the mad rush to create or reinforce a narrative there is little research of the facts and sources of a story and as a result, half truths and opinion are reported as incontrovertible facts.  In fact the WGAFA point is a useful propaganda tool. By the time the real truth of a story comes out, the correction (such as it is) does not cause a significant change in the publics viewpoint or recollection of the story.

One particular recent example is the story of the first Gaza Flotilla.  During the lifetime of one of my previous blogs, I covered the story about this and the rush of so called impartial organisations such as the BBC, to paint the naval blockade and the boarding of Mavi Marmara as illegal acts under international law.  In addition there was an eagerness to paint the Israeli investigation known as the Turkel Commission as a whitewash, using what was obviously a less robust UN report as the rebuttal for the Turkel Commission.  Where the WGAFA point comes in is that at the time, the UN were preparing to carry out an additional investigation into the events.  That report is now out and has concluded, like the Turkel Commission that the Israeli action was in fact legal.  Of course the correction in the media is virtually non-existent. The story has hit the WGAFA point and therefore the original viewpoint remains the accepted wisdom of the events.

There is now another story being developed that will reach its WGAFA point.  That story being the phone hacking scandal.  Most news outlets have jumped on bandwagon, reporting on the mud slinging at News International and tying the whole mess to the takeover of BSkyB.  In the rush to be ahead of the curve as these media luvvies like to be and the rush for positive headlines by politicians, some real questions about the story are being lost.  In all likelihood there are probably an awful lot of half truths and probably some outright lies being sold as facts in this story as well in its current form.

Autonomous Mind is one of the few who has stood in the eye of the hurricane and asked the pertinent questions and made the relevant observations about the story.  Eventually the furore will die down and some of the truths will come out and maybe some columnists will start to reveal "exclusives".  Unfortunately though, the WGAFA point is likely to have been reached in the minds of the public and no matter how shaky the foundation of the current narrative it will likely remain the accepted wisdom.

And we will be all the poorer for it.

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