Updated: Sep 28
STRUCTURING COMEDY TO SAVE THE WORLD: The comedy compass shows us how comedy can draw audiences toward the political center and short circuit disinformation. The Newsload leverages this into a business that can be franchised in any community.
By Bryan Bakker - Follow him on X @BKBakker
Heard of the Green Lantern? This compass is like an independent Newsload Editor's lantern:
As shown by the compass, jokes all around the political center are funny to the largest number of people. This means Newsload outlets, that work within this range, will have the best possibility of commercial success. Think of how different this is from other online content. Up till now, the most extreme stuff has had the best chance of financial gain online. Funny flips the script.
In the political extremes of the compass jokes fall flat. Newsload outlets that experiment with extremist stories will quickly find it is impossible to be funny there - at least for the broad majority. This will either pull the outlet toward the political center, bringing their audiences along with them, marginalize them or shut them down entirely.
The compass visualizes the evolutionary purpose of humour. The Newsload approach can harness this untapped power for as long as free speech is allowed. And maybe even, some places, where it's not -- wink, wink, nudge, nudge.
Newsload Editor Superpower List:
This superpower list simplistically outlines hyper complex interactions between humans on a mass scale. We believe the larger the data set, the more accurate the predicted outcome.
Online trolls have a hard time dealing with comedians. They love being able to label challengers as political stooges, academic hacks, partisan journalists, but it's hard to label a comedian as anything other than, well... a comedian. I'm not saying they don't - lord knows they do. But it's harder to get their audiences to follow along. Evolution made it tough to dislike someone who makes you laugh. Trolls find themselves banging their heads against walls that shrug, smile, and make their own audiences laugh at them.
If that's not a superpower, I don't know what is.
Comedy is an underutilized tool that can reach deep into our primal brain, neutralize hate, calm venom and bring us together.
The nature of humour is such that truth tellers can absorb and learn from jokes better than those who avoid or skew truth. This means that humour adds cushioning from criticism for truth tellers (soft cover) and amplifies criticism on anyone relying on scant evidence.
Right now, truth tellers online are at a tactical disadvantage, tearing each other apart or blocking each other, often, for honest missteps, while liars seem able to do and say anything they want without accountability. This dynamic is based on a fear based mindset.
Comedy, once again, can flip the script.
Within the pretext of comedy, truth tellers have permission to admit they were wrong, laugh it off, learn from it. What's the difference between a stranger and an old friend? You joke around with an old friend. Trolls however, lash out more in this environment, often with over the top rhetoric, denied responsibility and misperceived humiliation.
So fence sitters can better see and decide what to believe.
Comedy is the Achilles heel of narcissists. That's why they're always 'making fun of' other people.
Remember how much Trump hated SNL? This is why.
This superpower is so needed in this new media age. Being a Newsload Editor provides the ability, and rational, to provide rear cover to journalists, not just the ones we direct our viewers too, but journalists everywhere.
Before the rise of social media reporters were harassed, sure. Now powerful interests can unleash leagues of trolls with dozens of new tools to harass and discredit. The attacks are withering and slowly work to undermine trust in journalism generally. And though journalists have thick skins, the subtle fear this creates changes how and what they will report.
Discrediting reputable independent news sources is part of a strategy employed by foreign actors searching to divide, and entrepreneurs looking to make money while isolating their followers. Because of the nature of reputable journalism, journalists can't engage the trolls as they would like. Though understandable, this causes the casual reader to get the sense that the unanswered bullshit is true.
Up till now, there has been no force defending journalists against these attacks.
Only a Newsload Editor and his or her team, can take the objective center and go toe to toe with trolls on behalf of journalists. There are some important aspects to this:
A Newsload Editor can be vulgar, where warranted.
A Newsload Editor can use the weapons the trolls use against them, where warranted.
A Newsload Editor works to reveal the trolls so that followers can see malign intent.
In short, Newsload Editors provide rear cover for journalists so journalists can focus on doing their job while keeping their outlet's brand and reputation unsullied.
Personally, this power is my favorite.
Journalism is under a lot of pressure and not just from outside forces. Working journalists in many communities are often not able to cover the stories that most need to be covered. It's not conspiratorial, it's pragmatic. Editorial leadership is often so financially stressed the focus has to be on doing the stories that will get the most attention for the least amount of journalistic input.
A Newsload Editor has the independence to build sketches and draw attention too stories that may be going under the radar. Popularizing a scandal for instance may provide arguments that can be used to expend resources. As a Newsload Editor you can push the media agenda in your community and start something that will lead to more civic accountability in general.
Ever notice that successful late night comedy shows like Saturday Night Live, the Daily Show, Last Week With John Oliver, etc., occupy spaces around the political center? It isn't really political. It's a sign that comedy requires truth to work best and truth is what the majority of people believe truth is. That's why we call it the political center.
A Newsload outlet can counterbalance any force that isn't putting truth first, whether they're left or right. As the dynamic of a political movement pushes away from known truth they become more exposed to jokes and the comedians who make them. This happens on the macro level already.
The Newsload will allow this to happen, exponentially, on the local level.
What's funny has always been about what's true - but it's all in the delivery. Think of the racist joke that makes you laugh. If we believed the racist overtone was true, it wouldn't be funny. It's only funny if the underlining truth is exposed, ie. "It's horrible that people actually think that way."
Funny doesn't rely on scientific evidence to work. People either laugh or they don't. It's the same with fear. That's why fear is the favourite tool of trolls and authoritarians. The Newsload leverages funny to counterbalance fear. Just like in the savannah, 65,000 years ago.
As long as a Newsload story is based off objective, professional reporting, it will be immune to anything trolls use to sow doubt. Comedy flips the script on the gut instinct crowd. There is nothing more true to the gut, than something that gets us roaring with laughter.
Funny is the opposite of Fear. Where fear is used to motivate hate, funny motivates unity.
Funny in fact, is better suited to our modern era. Fear is spread virtually to many, who in truth, have nothing to fear. A comfortable station in life, solid job, peaceful neighbourhood; but drawn into fearing the abstract, trans folks, immigration, etc.
Funny can also be spread virtually, but to help people feel good, hopeful, empathetic. This mental state is better suited to the world, those folks at least, live in. Until the point of general calamity, funny will always hold the upper hand in this way.
Notice how advertising is all funny now.
This powerful superpower, afforded through the Newsload approach and the comedy compass, needs to be practiced to work.
It is the long term goal of we, the Newsload Editors of the world, to perfect it. After a joke, after a viewer's world view is threatened, there needs to be rhetorical space left for them to come closer to the center, without recrimination.
"I told you so", is possibly the most destructive phrase ever uttered.
Properly administered, funny can crush fear while leaving space for egos to heal. Every time a joke is laughed at by someone who doesn't agree with the substance behind it, there is a chance they will glimpse a new perspective. These moments can be epiphanies, but mishandled they push folks further away.
For True Persuasion to work, Newsload Editors must remember that it isn't about 'being the bigger person' or having 'superior knowledge'. It's about making sure there is space for enemies to stand beside you.
This idea is best expressed through the common experience of not getting a joke. It's awkward when you have to have a joke explained to you. Fascist or communist, we all want to 'get it'. Where else in modern life, can we get extremists to work on understanding a different point of view? If it's funny they will.
Once again, funny flips the script.
The Newsload leverages market forces, through the power of the comedy compass, to attain superpowers in the fight to revitalize democracy, crush extremism and disinformation, online and locally.
Superpower #1: Hard Cover - It's hard to criticize a comedian as anything other than a comedian. If you try you will probably lose, you risk alienating your supporters, and you risk being the butt of any new jokes. Trolls prefer easy targets.
Superpower #2: Soft Cover - Newsload Editor's create space where truth tellers can find cover within their ranks by laughing off mistakes. Meanwhile trolls are driven to mania through comedy. They are more terrified of being humiliated than anyone.
Superpower #3: Rear Cover - Newsload Editors can be the defenders of their journalist team members. In the trenches online they protect reputations and call out bullshit using the language the trolls use, where warranted.
Superpower #4: True Independence - As a Newsload Editor you will have the independence to build sketches and draw attention to stories that may be going under the radar in your community.
Superpower #5: Lie Filter - What's funny has always been about what's true and this can expose liars to their followers.
Superpower #6: Fear Crusher - Funny is the opposite of fear. Where fear is used to motivate hate, funny motivates unity. Once internalized this understanding will change the world.
Superpower #7: True Persuasion - If presented and followed up properly, comedy can open minds, giving folks a chance to change their perspective and move away from political extremes and disinformation.
The Newsload is creating an army of comedians to save the world... there I said it. And what's crazier, we're going to do it through laughter. I know right! It'll take time and it'll be a wild ride for sure. We'll see such laughter and goodness though - we'll see such renewed hope! But what I really want, is to see the comedy people come up with next. It will be epic!
Newsload Sample Story (Launching Newsload London)
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