Thursday, March 02, 2006

Just kidding

Well, my sense of humor went missing last week. Even the didn’t help, although the Colbert Report’s interview with Benjamin Franklin didn’t hurt.

Regardless, in the interest of cleaning the slate [Got some chalk? Please.], I’m going to dump the following ill-tempered screech which I’ve been “working” on the last few days. The plan being that once it’s off my desk and cast to the ill winds, there will be room in heart and head for sweetness and light.

I had been firmly determined to keep the weekend from straying into murky waters, to avoid the Serious and Contentious at all costs.

But we all know where stern resolutions get one.

Especially since I awoke very late on Saturday to various reports from Dublin which I could hardly ignore. First, because I had to track down YO! Basta’s cover boy, given that I knew he was in one of two studios, both of which are in barrios covered by the “spillover.”

But once I ascertained that he was more than fine, I still had to confront events. Once again, Boys Gone Wild, their leaders distancing themselves from the running amuck, bemoaning the chaos. Nothing to do with them, of course, hardly incumbent upon them to take responsibility for their words or to provide history or bail money.

It wasn’t always like that, there. As in other parts of the world, this is a third and fourth generation phenomena. There was a time, there and other places, when their grandparents had set their parents down and given them words, books, history.

Once again, untutored acolytes paying lip service to Serious Issues, then hurling building blocks into shopfronts and bricks at gardai and journalists. Not to mention the “spillover” into said shops and consequent scooping up of trainers and electronica.

Of course I don’t think the bastards should have been given a parade permit down O’Connell Street, for god’s sake. How any government could think that importing Marching Season to the Northside was a wise and judicious policy is, well, beyond words.

But don’t think for a second that I take issue with every brick hurled into every burger bar in the world. I indeed believe there’s time and place. But this smelled of the usual lager louts run stupid in foreign ports of call. Except this was their own barrio, past, present and future.

And, given the way my mind has been [mal] functioning of late, I found my thoughts turning to the Other Campaign, its objectives, methods and latest words.

The Sixth Committee had made it eminently clear from the outset that it saw itself as facilitator, setting off on a Journey in order to meet with others, forge alliances, help with groundwork. But without the klieg lights, stadium rock or pawing media.

A dilemma, thus, given the lack of glitz, and one which was assumed might be assuaged by the preferential pass given to other media which would, of course, cover the events with seriousness and measure.

So, when the Delegado himself calls for, um, something other than the frenzied, instantaneous, apocalyptic, hagiographic and verbatim, I take notice. Rather than screaming to the choir, he suggests finding new channels in order to reach those without access to modem or posse.

Such a concept, and not only because it speaks to the perennial, overwhelmingly important issue of how to reach beyond one’s fan base. And, as the cameras are swung away from the podium, as requested, they may also shine brief light on themselves. And shuddering to raise such a delicate subject, on the nature and quality of alt, as well as mass, media.

But first I must insist that I absolutely refuse to delve into the arcane and tedious question as to the definition and/or existence of “unbiased” truth or reportage. Point of view always exists, that’s a given. Whether overtly or covertly, in what the eye chooses to see or ignore, in what the media chooses to cover, or not.

Which does not, for me, obviate the need for some kind of distinction to be made between “news” and “opinion.” I know, distressingly old school, as ever.

This increasing lack of distinction between the above is one of the numerous similarities which I can’t help but noting between alt and mass. Both have their place, but, I entreat, they are not the same. I know how it all started, I remember the first time a news reader batted his eyelashes into the camera and intoned “this reporter”...

Another similarity is the constant barrage of Breaking News on cable networks with a shelf-life of a gnat and the histrionic headlines of certain independent outlets with similar cycle length.

Whether it’s CNN or many of our “own” alternatives, my reaction is almost always the same: deep self-loathing at having actually listened to/read such drivel and a primal sense that I should be spanked and sent to the cloakroom for having participated, however passively, in such circus.

What I yearn for is straight reportage which takes itself and its subject seriously. Without the Geraldo wannabees [and I can think of several], conspiracy theories and provocative posts. Journalists who understand the difference between self-aggrandizement - the overweening “I” – and thorough, principled coverage.

But I suppose, as ever, I’m just being silly. As ever.

Since almost all the mass media refuses to take itself – and most especially its readers/viewers – seriously, then why in the hell should we? Speed it up, dumb it down, churn it out. Dishing the same endlessly fawning, fatuous, often fictive, faux gonzo “journalism.” Giving their base what they think they want. And deserve.

The playbook sounds eerily familiar to the “boilerplate” discussed in a previous post and no surprise, since most of the new journalists are drawn from the fan base, and many of them aspire not just to play with the big boys but also to be one of them. Yes, just like the Wolfster and the rest of the cable starlets.

Now, in the interest of just a modicum of fair and balanced, some indys are better than others, none of the above applies to Hermann and we can always pray for more frequent Journal entries.

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