Tag Archives: media

Meet my hero for a day … Charlie Brooker

30 Aug

Time sure flies when you are (not) having fun moving and packing up your life.  I’ve been aware in the background about the on-going debate regarding the infamous “Ground Zero Mosque”, but wasn’t really paying attention, since a) it’s a reno of an existing facility, b) isn’t a mosque and c) isn’t at Ground Zero.  Seemed pretty simple, so I really haven’t done a whole lot of reading or thinking about it.  Until today.

Paging through my Huffington Post highlights for the day, I came across this link to an article by one Charlie Brooker, a journalist with The Guardian in the UK, who originally posted it online about a week ago. Mr. Brooker makes some interesting points, but I think his best work goes to the heart of the matter – the fact that the US media is feeding this non-drama, and that the average American (and lots of others besides) seems to be content to take sound-bites as facts.

I mean, seriously.  Are we so busy doing insanely important other things that we are content to let the media, owned by a small and ever-shrinking group of folks with specific agendas of their own, do our thinking for us?  And if that’s the case and we’ve given up thinking about what’s going on in our newsrooms, what are we doing exactly? Figuring out climate change, curing AIDS, stopping wars? We better be pretty darn busy.

One can only hope that this issue dies the quick death it deserves.  Although maybe we won’t notice, busy as we are with all that other stuff.


The spin on the spill

9 Jun

This is one of those classic yelling-at-the-TV moments. In the middle of watching AC360 on CNN, calm music of a commercial invades, and there is Tony Hayward of BP doing his “we will make this right” speech. Have you seen this thing??!!!

First off, the teleprompter-induced squint has got to go – way to look like you couldn’t speak from the heart on one of the most heart-wrenching events in US history. And secondly, thanks for “taking full responsibility for the clean-up” as the crap-o-mercial goes on to say, really, that’s very generous of you.  What about taking responsibility for the events leading up to the spill in the first place??!!!

What absolutely blows my mind is the continuing idea, in the face of thousands of blog posts, hours of television and radio coverage, pounds and pounds of print news, that they can somehow “spin” this issue!!  From an upwardly spiralling flow rate from the well that is now being challenged by the Flow Rate Technical Group, to the continuing denial of sub-sea oil plumes, these guys are trying to tweak our perspective on this whole sad and sorry mess.  And clearly, this is in their best interest, as ProPublica.org reported this week.

So here is my call to the blogosphere, the new and old media, and every single person who knows someone else, sat next to someone on the bus, or stood behind a guy at the coffee shop.  Do NOT stop talking about, writing about, debating about and researching this issue.  Never, ever give up.  The collective voice needs to drown out the spin, no doubt about it.

Just like Mr. Hayward, we need to say it out loud. Minus the squint, if possible.

What does that word even mean?

8 Jun

Like many of you, I’ve been following the lead-up to the 2010 World Cup with excitement. I’m an avid soccer fan, but I’m also old enough to remember when South Africa was one of the last places on earth that you would imagine hosting a major world sporting event.  I said as much to a friend this week, and mentioned the long way that the country has come since the end of apartheid.  Her next words were literally jaw-dropping, at least to me:

“What’s apartheid?” she said.

OMG! Deep breath, don’t freak out.  After I managed to close my “hanging-open-speechless” mouth, I took stock a bit. She’s about 10 years younger than I am, grew up in Western Canada in a relatively small community, didn’t have any requirement to take world history in high school, and is by her own admission “not really interested in world events.” She was very interested to listen to my thumb-nail description of some of the major events in the history of apartheid in South Africa, and was amazed to learn that this had been happening “in living memory.” To her credit, she had heard of Nelson Mandela, but didn’t know he’d been imprisoned for 27 years.

For me, apartheid was a much debated topic in our household all through my childhood.  Our West Indies cricket team boycotted tournaments where South Africa was expected to take part. My Dad instituted the first “social purchasing campaign” I’d ever experienced, banned the purchase of our favourite English-made marmalade, because key UK banks had refused to pull out of South Africa. You couldn’t help but know about what was happening.

 However, her innocence really got me thinking.  Is the word “apartheid” still relevant? What does it signify when people don’t even know what it means, or have no concept of the struggle that many generations faced until the systematic discrimination regime was abolished? How many people following World Cup coverage over the next month will see or hear the supporting story-based coverage about life in South Africa today and not see the bigger picture? And what should that coverage portray?

An interesting side note, though not at all scientific. A quick Google search of apartheid awareness brings up hits regarding “Israeli apartheid”. Huh!

Speak your mind, people.