Monday, November 29, 2004

Turkey Day Reading

A long weekend of family, food, and people who have become appurtenances to the family (i.e., almost legally impossible to have removed); then, repeat, repeat, repeat. In So Cal we had rain, cold, and another SC storm (Trojans beat the Irish - too bad). But I also took time out to read James Wolcott's Attack Poodles and Other Media Mutants (Miramax 2004). I enjoy his monthly columns in Vanity Fair, and he has entered the blogging universe, but the pleasure of a hardbound book cannot be routinely denied. In a follow-up to my post on focus groups, I noticed the following passage from page 219:

The late New Yorker journalist Joseph Mitchell (Joe Gould's Secret, Up in the Old Hotel) once explained that the reason he gave up doing human-interest stories was because over time his interviewees stopped talking like individuals with their own unique vernacular and started imitating the characters they heard on TV. Likewise, people who participate in focus groups have become gifted in speaking focus-groupese, supplying the placebocomments expected of the them. "Education's definitely a big priority in our household." "Trust is high on my agenda when I'm considering a candidate." "I want to consider all the issues before I make a decision." Kill me now.

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