Monday, October 15, 2001

Page 156. Objectivity. If I get what you're saying here, it ain't all it's cracked up to be--at least not in journalism today. And "Today" has turned into a heavy word. Heavier every day. It's amazing reading this book through a post-9/11 lens, as compared to how I would have read it pre. You remember pre? You wrote this thing pre.

What you discuss here--objectivity-turned-truth-hiding--is smacking us in the face right now. [Self to other self: Well jeez, no kidding, Jeneane, the whole country is embracing censorship because it's the right thing to do--to save our troops! What's wrong with you? Do you want American troops killed?] Okay, no. I don't want anyone killed... really. Well, a few people... Well, not really killed... I mean does killing the killer really accompli.... And who... Oh hell. I don't know.

These are the thoughts that hit me reading the book's public journalism thread during these electric times (is it a thread if it's in the book and I'm the only one responding? forrest... tree falls.. no one to hear it...) Anyway, ya, so, objectivity.

So here's what I think: From a media/journalism standpoint, Web conversations are going to be the only winner in America's New War. Why? Because I'm getting downright uncomfortable watching CNN and FOX-News and the like--I mean, do you see the looks on the faces of these broadcasters? If I'm right, no sooner do they put the mic down than they dive under their desks and slap on their secret gas masks. Right? I've never seen so many wrinkled foreheads staring and talking at me with this "I'm objective. Really. Just reporting the News here. Nothing to worry about. We're gonna get the evil ones." But their body language is incredible. The unspoken is unnerving. THEN to top it off, they've got like six windows inside of windows on my TV with all of these horrific stats and other reporter's heads babbling next to their new resident experts.... But that's not enough. Scroll me by some more anthrax cases at the bottom of my screen, Bob, I haven't had enough today. And why? Because the TV screen is flat and you can't hyperlink anyplace else. You can't escape. You have to absorb it all at once or not at all.

Someone, give me a Xanax, please!

Okay, now let's dis their Web sites while we're at it. Example, CNN:
Hey, Pete, Put up another still shot from the night scope, will ya? [HELLO--WE CAN'T SEE ANYTHING.] And, I know, on the top, let's put our ugly logo. Next to that, let's fill up the rest of the space with Larry King and a guest or two. In the little square just above the news, let's put a picture of Bush [good, i forgot what he looks like], then let's run the obligatory stories on the latest anthrax scare and airplane bathroom powder incident. Forget the left-hand menu bar. Just put some useless links there--no one looks at them anyways. That leaves us room to fill the lower half with CNN-contrived fact sheets, Q&As, and a really cool new thing called an "Explainer." [noodle on that word for a minute.]

Are things better over at Hell no. Same news as CNN and LOTS of pictures of their "powerful lineup." (Notice they had to put all these guys--and they are all guys--in a circle so no one's ego would explode from being placed beneath a trusted colleague.)

To save on prescription drugs, I go to the Net for my "news." There, I can find out what's "going on"--for these reasons: It's real. It's real quick when I want it to be. It can be all night long when I want it to be. I hear people's THOUGHTS not their REPORTS. Reports, you digest once. That's it. Belch.

Thoughts? What do they lead to? More thoughts. Opinions. Ideas. And sometimes... even resolution. Right? Am I on to something here?


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