Historically, when a newspaper published “breaking news,” or beat its competitors to a newsworthy story, the publication would print an extra edition. Newsboys would sell the extra edition on the street barking the words, “extra, extra, read all about it.” In some cases, where the news warranted, people would buy a second edition in a day or opt to buy that extra edition instead of a newspaper produced by a competitor. Aside from introducing new information to the public, it also produced a new way for the publication to make money. In the case of the media, disasters of all kinds were and remain a source of income – making money in the face of disaster.
This piece, created from a canvas bag, is not unlike the money bags used by banks to transport large sums of cash. In its bold red and white stripes, Extra Extra calls to mind the Big Top, a circus of activity that surrounds horrific natural disasters, earthquakes with billions of dollars of damage, tornados that rip through towns wiping out entire families and hurricanes that flood major cities are not only personal disasters, but opportunities for the media to offer extended coverage, liberally interspersed with commercial activity. The images of hundred dollar bills underlies the Chronicle’s announcement of a “quake” with hundreds dead. Big money media is represented by crows, black birds that have no compunction about picking flesh from bones, greedy stockbrokers express their delight at the announcement of a huge, extra-large disaster. Loose feathers are based on the idea that when a bird’s feathers are not smooth, the bird is excited about something, they also make us question exactly what is in the bag? Or does it matter? To the media, human suffering is a tremendous source of income.