Tag: soft news

Tiger Woods and the Thorny Matter of Racial Identity

generic vardenafil uk I thought I’d never be the next person to write about Tiger Woods.   That is, until today, when the sensationalist aspects of this incredibly bizarre story gave way to more substantive critiques.  In a different time, where concerns about the economy, the passage of health care reform, the uncertainty of a war in Afghanistan, and a variety of matters that collectively form the winter of our discontent, following glorious summer, this would have been endlessly digested and discussed.   Woods is at least fortunate that his great fall happened when the rest of the country and the news media was too distracted with other things.   If only in future we could give soft news its rightful place in a profoundly subordinate role behind serious matters, but this may be asking too much.    

http://cinziamazzamakeup.com/?x=farmacia-viagra-generico-50-mg-a-Napoli As for Tiger Woods, when a revealing racial dynamic begins to enter the picture after an interested public and tabloid media, desperately churn up wild rumor after wild rumor regarding the scandal, then I have something to work with after all.   The New York Daily News, itself at times a scandal sheet, does at least outline something very interesting.    

follow site When three white women were said to be romantically involved with Woods in addition to his blonde, Swedish wife, blogs, airwaves and barbershops started humming, and Woods’ already tenuous standing among many blacks took a beating.

cialis generico tadalista On the nationally syndicated Tom Joyner radio show, Woods was the butt of jokes all week.

http://maientertainmentlaw.com/?search=accutane-without-prescription “Thankfully, Tiger, you didn’t marry a black woman. Because if a sister caught you running around with a bunch of white hoochie-mamas,” one parody suggests in song, she would have castrated him.

vardenafil originale Sardegna In addition to re-emphasizing a stereotypical portrayal of the sassy, no-nonsense Black woman, offensive in and of itself, the unveiled implication behind it as plain as the eye on one’s face.  Within the Black community, dating or marrying a white woman was seen as a form of social mobility.   Or, if you prefer, moving on up to the East Side.   Indeed, it still is.   Though the comparison may be a bit of a stretch, do also contemplate that both of Michael Jackson’s wives were white, as was the mother of his children.   The early Twentieth Century boxer Jack Johnson, an undisputed heavyweight titan of his time, broached social mores with abandon, and in so doing surrounded himself with white women.  That many of these women were considered of low moral standard, low social class, and often inclined to toil in the service of the world’s oldest profession did nothing to decrease the ire of both Whites and Blacks during his career.

Another figure who was very much front and center in the public eye in his day and also had a particular fondness for white women was Richard Pryor, who addressed the matter in his classic 1974 comedy album, That Ni**er’s Crazy.

Sisters look at you like you killed your mother when they see you with white women.

A sense of sticking to one’s place and staying with one’s own kind,  though it has decreased with the passage of time, still lives within the minds of many.  If it were merely a one-sided assumption, then it could be more easily fixed, but issues this large rarely are.  

As one blogger, Robert Paul Reyes, wrote: “If Tiger Woods had cheated on his gorgeous white wife with black women, the golfing great’s accident would have been barely a blip in the blogosphere.”

http://cinziamazzamakeup.com/?x=cialis-generico-acquisto-on-line The darts reflect blacks’ resistance to interracial romance. They also are a reflection of discomfort with a man who has smashed barriers in one of America’s whitest sports and assumed the mantle of the world’s most famous athlete, once worn by Muhammad Ali and Michael Jordan.

Regarding the highlighted sentence above, I take some liberty with the author of this column.  It’s just not that simple, though the AP seems to always wish that it were.   Blacks aren’t so much resistant to interracial romance, but they are frequently disappointed and dismayed when African-Americans who attain some degree of fame make a concerted effort to exclusively date and then marry Caucasian women, particularly those who are the epitome and definition of what this society deems beautiful.   Our culture still pushes the blonde-haired, thin-waisted, Barbie doll look in almost every conceivable fashion, which relegates attractiveness and desirability to a very specific and very discriminatory standard, leaving out a good 90% of the rest of womanhood in the process.   This is particular true for women of color.  For any minority group, assimilation with the majority has been the quickest way to achieve “respectability”, though the resentment it creates in those left behind never subsides.        

Regarding a desire for African-Americans to date and marry other African-Americans, the column deems it “loyalty”, but this is an inexact qualifier at best.   It is a sort of racial pride, but comedian Sheryl Underwood advances the notion a bit farther.

“Would we question when a Jewish person wants to marry other Jewish people?” she said in an interview. “It’s not racist. It’s not bigotry. It’s cultural pride.”

“The issue comes in when you choose something white because you think it’s better,” Underwood said. “And then you never date a black woman or a woman of color or you never sample the greatness of the international buffet of human beings. If you never do that, we got a problem.”

Years after Loving v. Virginia, the shock of interracial relationships has subsided.   The film Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?, deeply controversial in its time, produces smiles when viewed in our age because of how dated its subject matter appears to today’s audience.  Perceiving matters through a strictly racial prism, particularly one with only two settings can only take us so far towards understanding.   The irony is that while everyone seems to find no fault in interracial relationships, many are still reluctant to push past their own discomfort or date outside of their own racial group.   And I must admit, in all fairness, that I myself am guilty of that as much as anyone else.    

So to conclude, we should not summarily assume that with Tiger Woods being proven to be utterly human and wholly flawed that some part of our trusting innocence needs to perish alongside his indiscretions.   One of the deepest hypocrisies we continue to advance is holding our heroes to a moral and ethical standard that we feel incapable of achieving ourselves.   In a way, it’s a bit of a cop-out when we transpose this crusade for perfection felt deep within ourselves onto those whom we idolize.   They end up having to do the heavy lifting for our sins and when they fail, pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.   Even so, shelving this instinctive impulse that assumes any being will reach some Nirvana-like state before our very eyes based on accomplishment alone might be the best thing we, as a body of people, can do for ourselves.   This doesn’t mean anything goes or that extramarital affairs should be permissible or that mistakes should always be rationalized away, but it does mean that we ought to consider keeping our indignation at a responsible volume and tempered by responsible expectations.    

As it stands, USA Today posits,

So it won’t matter that Woods won’t be getting that Congressional gold medal and we won’t care that the future of his business empire remains steady.

Columnist Christine Brennan writes about it being a long road back but it is a road back.

Still, Woods was an athlete we trusted. We feel a bit foolish with all those claims that he was the one athlete whose only interest was winning. That while others were pursuing outside interests, Woods was beating golf balls and figuring out ways to win.

Former president Ronald Reagan used to say “trust but verify.”

Sometimes we are more angry and the bitterness lingers when we didn’t see it coming.

So, has Woods spoiled it for other guys?

Does the fact that we got fooled by this guy now make us less trusting of all athletes?

Ronald Reagan quote aside, I don’t think trust is the matter at hand here.   Or if it is, trust ought to be applied to ourselves first before we place it in the hands of some arbitrarily appointed industry, entity, or agency who has based its entire focus and revenue around a single person who happens to be notable based on a high degree of achievement.   This is true in sports, it is true in politics, and it is true in life.   Be the change.  Above all, be the change.  Don’t lay the change on someone else’s shoulders, no matter how broad you think them to be.   That road leads to ruin.    

The Soft News/Hard News Debate: Internet Edition

Time Magazine, or at least its online edition, seeks to understand why Google seems to love highlighting a particular “news source” in its search results.  The very subtle, but nonetheless evident message implanted within the article is that search engine algorithms might have the same biases and favoritism embedded into them as any other corporation who owns or has partnership with other media companies.  I know that by monitoring IP addresses that visit my site by use of a tracker I frequently notice when Google bot sweeps periodically come through to make a note of and reference recently posted columns I have written.   It isn’t very long after that before I notice that traffic has been directed to my site as a result.   However, let me say that I do make a concerted effort to write something unique and meaningful, qualities which are in short supply when effort is not rewarded by much in the way of money.

If you type the name of a celebrity – say, Angelina Jolie – into Google News, chances are somewhere in the top five results you’ll get a story from Examiner.com. This is particularly true if the celebrity is in the news that day. For early December that means searches for Tiger Woods, Sandra Bullock and Weezer on Google News consistently brought up Examiner.com stories in the topmost results. And in those stories, by the way, how to buy propecia there was very little actual news.

Absolutely.   The only currently existing model available to those who blog for pay is centered around advertising revenue as the most important variable of all.   Instead of providing a unique perspective on the news, instead one gets a bare minimum of original content and a whole e-farm’s worth of hyper-linking and search engine keyword baiting.   It needs to be noted, of course, that Examiner.com is not the only site out there using a similar strategy to press a similar agenda.   But in that regard, it is not much different to any kind of freelance work which promises sporadic assignments, minimal pay, few benefits, and no real job security.   The signer of the paychecks or distributor of funds to the PayPal account still holds most of the cards at the table.   In a field where so many are fighting to be heard and where competition is fierce and often cutthroat, employers get utterly inundated with prospective writers and many of them have the ego and the swagger but none of the talent to back it up.   Proceeding directly for the easy sell and the low hanging fruit has padded profits but has rarely advanced a civic discourse or issue evolution.    

They also have very little news value. Generally, an Examiner.com news story is a compendium of tidbits culled from other websites, neither advancing the story nor bringing any insight (a description, it should be noted, that can be just as fairly applied to many offerings of more mainstream media). Most Examiners are not journalists, and their prose is not edited. CEO Rick Blair, who helped launch AOL’s Digital Cities, an earlier attempt at a local-news network, calls them “pro-am” – more professional than bloggers, but more amateur than most reporters. You might also call them traffic hounds: because their remuneration is set by, among other things, the number of people who click on their stories, Examiners will often piggyback on hot news, or oft-searched people. The Angelina Jolie story, from a celebrity-fitness and -health Examiner, discussed Jolie and husband Brad Pitt’s recent night out at a movie premiere and assessed their health by their appearance.

Put this way, here is a decent enough description of most collaborative blogs.   However, before one buys into this description hook, line, and sinker without taking into account the underlying intent it must be added that Daily Kos was described by Time as one of its “Most Overrated Blogs of 2009” in very searing language.

It wrote,

Markos Moulitsas – alias “Kos” – created Daily Kos in 2002, a time he describes as “dark days when an oppressive and war-crazed administration suppressed all dissent as unpatriotic and treasonous.” Be careful what you wish for. With the Bush years now just a memory, Kos’s blog has lost its mission, and its increasingly rudderless posts read like talking points from the Democratic National Committee.

Easy for you to say, Time.   Dear pot, kindly meet kettle.

Returning to my original point, at the beginning of this post, I referenced an article written to encourage a spirit of full disclosure, no matter how stealthy proposed.   I would be similarly remiss if I did not state that I, too, am a reporter for Examiner.com.   Yet, I note, however, that in nearly a month of writing for it I have made under $20 for my efforts, even though my pieces usually attract a respectable audience that frequently exceeds the average number of hits which typify the typical DC Politics Examiner.  I don’t run away from controversy in that which I write, but neither do I seek to provoke without backing up my points, buttressing my argument, and taking into account the inevitable counter-arguments of my opponents.   Still, one simply can’t keep up with those who dispense romance advice, bicycle repair, child rearing tricks, and pet psychic services.   Nor can I keep up with the barrage of ultimately meaningless drivel that might be the opiate of the masses but tends to put me into an opium-based sleep.   I do not expect to make much out of any of what I do but I will say that I seek to strategically position and my postings to get maximum exposure.   I am no different from many of you reading this, I daresay.  

So why does Examiner.com’s fairly superficial posts on the big stories of the day end up so often near the front of Google’s news queue? “It’s not a trick,” says Blair. “We have almost 25,000 writers posting 3,000 original articles per day.” Examiners take seminars on writing headlines, writing in the third person and making full use of social media, all of which are Google manna. But Blair thinks it’s mostly the scale of the operation that makes Examiner.com articles so attractive to search engines, from which more than half of the site’s traffic comes. That is, by stocking the lake with so many fish every day Examiner.com increases the chances the Google trawlers will haul one of theirs up.

And here we have a perfect example of why an unholy combination of made up celebrities, made up drama, and manufactured crises for the sake of readership threaten to choke out everything wholly decent.   Weeds are on the verge of taking over the garden.   Or, as Howard Beale would say, “And woe is us! We’re in a lot of trouble!”   Speak softly, though, because to some extent we’ve already been handcuffed by the almighty dollar and may always be.   Some realities go well beyond our poor power to add or detract.

In a coy final note, the Time article concludes,

The goal of all these companies, eventually, is to snare local advertising, a $141 billion market that, according to Blair, has been left largely untapped by the Internet.  Examiner.com will start rolling out ad packages in the next few months, and will hit up its network for leads.

In the meantime, these pro-am armies are giving the big media companies plenty to worry about. The mainstream media’s news-harvesting machines are no match for a swarm of local locusts buzzing over the same crop. http://maientertainmentlaw.com/?search=prednisone-knee-5-mg And Big Media is starting to take notice. CNN, which already uses a lot of crowdsourced material with its ireport arm, just invested in another local outfit, outside.in. Perhaps the news giant figures that if everybody’s going to be a reporter, they might as well work for CNN.

The note is winking and coy because Time is, after all, owned by CNN.   I, too, have been an iReporter for CNN, for the same reasons I write at Examiner.com.   I don’t make a dime out of it, but I do get my name out in the hope that someone, somewhere, is listening, reading, and contemplating.   My hope, of course, is that at least with my post there will be an alternative, thought-provoking voice in the middle of all the fluff and unsubstantial content.   Perhaps that is what we all wish for when we put our fingers to our keyboards and begin typing or begin synching up our digital cameras.  We want to be better than that which we just finished reading or want to be provide a better analysis than a pundit who makes thousands upon thousands of dollars a year to sound supremely ignorant.   Yet, we might also need to contemplate our current realities before we get caught up on our own narratives.  Recall Network once more.

You get up on your little twenty-one inch screen and howl about America and democracy. There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM and ITT and AT&T and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today.

We no longer live in a world of nations and ideologies, Mr. Beale. The world is a college of corporations, inexorably determined by the immutable bylaws of business. The world is a business, Mr. Beale. It has been since man crawled out of the slime. And our children will live, Mr. Beale, to see that perfect world in which there’s no war or famine, oppression or brutality — one vast and ecumenical holding company, for whom all men will work to serve a common profit, in which all men will hold a share of stock, all necessities provided, all anxieties tranquilized, all boredom amused.  

 

Human Interest Story? Sorry, Not Interested

I admit that I have always been skeptical and unaffected by the majority of human interest stories.  It’s not that these efforts to tug at America’s heart strings leave me cold and uncaring, but rather I rightly see them as an attempt to tug at our purse strings as well.  Every so often a story, such as the brave pilot who quite incredibly landed a commercial aircraft in the Hudson river will come to light; situations like those deserve every mention and every laudatory bit of praise.  However, for every one genuine story of high drama and unselfish heroism, there are four which are cynically leap upon and patently designed to hook in viewers. These are then given the hard sell by the excited, tension-building cadences of television anchors, compelling us, if not begging us to watch the story develop in front of our faces.    

Though the Media (and certain members of the Obama Administration, if the story is to be believed) will chide us for our irresponsibility in jumping to conclusions or not taking into account the whole picture, in situations like the recent story regarding the six-year-old little boy who was said to be dangerously being carried by a runaway balloon when he was in fact hiding in his family’s attic, the media looks more foolish than the most clueless blogger.  Attempting to save face, the media is now questioning whether the entire matter was a cheap stunt.  Whether it was or not is largely immaterial.  News reporters rapaciously jumped aboard this story when only the most basic of facts had been confirmed, and the most glaring offenders were the twenty-four hour cable news networks.  Child + perilous situation + novelty + human interest + potentially heroic rescue = media catnip.    

Teachable moments™ like these can be direct at a variety of offenders.  I might start with a few news outlets whose desperation to use this non-event for their own ends led them to play a bit fast and loose with journalistic restraint.  Everyone stands to gain from a particularly juicy story, of course.  Still, pardon my skepticism, what would have been accomplished if the matter had turned out to be true?  What if there had been a stirring rescue followed by at least an hour’s worth of self-congratulatory talk from the active participants in the rescue effort?  A three-day-dialogue on bad parenting skills?  A picture of the young boy on the cover of People?  A satellite interview with the family and the child himself on the morning pseudo-news/variety hour of one’s choosing?  An eventual appearance on Oprah™?  Aside from a nice distraction from our lives of quite desperation, how does this help?    

It did not, of course, turn out this way.  As it stands, the media does not like to be punk’d, yet the irony in this instance is that the mainstream players unintentionally punk’d themselves.  It is for reasons like these that the phrase “human interest” elicits yawns rather than heightened curiosity within me.  I suppose maybe I see news purely in terms of substantive critique and a presentation of important information.  My life is boringly normal enough and I don’t need validation of mutual humanity in the form of the latest person who has bravely faced some challenge or distinguished himself or herself from the rest of the pack.  Most of my personal heroes never faced a television camera in their whole of their lives and, if they ever exist in the public consciousness at all, they are often mere footnotes and shadowy phantoms in someone’s forthcoming book or dissertation.    

Fame is ephemeral enough, but soft news fame is its own kind of ephemeral cotton candy—here now, gone quickly, likely never to return.  Those who court it know that the quickest way to maintain attention is to resort to sensation and to devise their own means of achieve it.  When I was in undergrad, the Mass Communications 101 class I took taught us each of the ways which could be employed to grab the attention of the media.  Those whose stated internal agenda is to achieve the spotlight would be well to memorize them, since they are truer now than ever, especially in a time of great transition.  In a different time, this whole child in balloon facing great danger story would not have been instantly transformed into an established motif of vulnerable child fighting against a harsh environment.  Facts would have been checked more judiciously.  With three main cable networks fighting for the attention of an audience, each seeks to outdo the other.  Competition can be good for everyone involved, but while each has carved out its own particular niche, one can still plainly observe squabbling over the coveted title of number one.  A media with egg on its face again would be wise to not invest in eggs, since they have a way of boomeranging back to their thrower.