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Archive for April, 2007

was NBC showing the Cho videos the abu ghraib of virginia tech coverage?

in no way am i trying to equate the gravity of vatech with the iraq war (yes, the shooting was sad and shocking, but we’re talking civil war), but something interesting my idiot roommate told me got me thinking.

he’s the one who works as a producer for fox news, and he was telling me how in the week he spent in blacksburg, he and his crew and some of the students and families actually began forming a sort of camaraderie. yes, true the media are often depicted as vultures, but after a while, i think people start getting used to it. he said, for the most part, people were relatively open to talking to the press, and if not, were at least polite about it.

then NBC aired those videos and the whole tone changed. he’d ask questions and he’d get a big “fuck you” or “shove off.” granted, he sucks at life and totally deserves it, but the bigger picture is that sentiment definitely shifted away from the media. the people were disgusted, betrayed. they no longer could trust us.

then think about what abu ghraib did to iraqi sentiment toward america and american troops. it’s safe to say that a significant number of people (maybe not majority, and failure was probably inevitable, but we’ll stick with a vague “significant”) were on board with the whole america in iraq thing. but once the abu ghraib story broke, that whole concept was basically decimated. no more trust, yada yada.

what’s the lesson behind these two analogous events? i’m not really sure. that the media sucks? or maybe just the world in general. don’t fuck with people’s lives.

captain america has been resurrected

… as a 54-year-old florida doctor.

The captain reportedly died in a recent issue of the comic book series, yet, somehow, miraculously, he was able to come back to life, show up at a skeezy bar on a physicians’ bar crawl, shove a burrito down his pants, grope a woman, hide the burrito in his boot, get arrested, get caught trying to flush a joint down a jail toilet, and then go to rehab.

the man/superhero/my hero:

and the burrito:

who knew captain america ate taco bell? and supreme, too? i think someone’s overcompensating …

shout out to cuz mike for the heads up. don’t know how i missed it.

those chrysler minivan commercials make me sad

do you know which ones i’m talking about? the ones with all the gloriously wild children running around and screaming; all fun and fancy free? but then, the evil, uptight, intolerant hardass comes and pulls down a mini tv screen, and POOF, the children stand mesmerized by the moving pictures.

the ad (i think, but i’m not sure b/c it disgusts me) is for a new satellite TV feature in minivans that will make kids tame and less bothersome while driving. asks “wouldn’t it be great” if you could use a small tv screen to tranquilize your children all the time? not just in a minivan?

F THAT JIVE! kids are supposed to be a little nuts, a little closer to our uncivilized roots. stop zombie-fying your kids b/c you’re impatient and selfish. it speaks to this trend of overmedicating kids who can’t pay attention in kindergarten. what is there to pay attention to anyway? what bugs me most is that this is all based onthe premise that sedate, boring children are a good thing. wild does not equal abnormal.

maybe i’ll sing a different tune if/when i have kids, but you can be sure as hell that they will be medicated as little as possible. that’s what happens when your grandparents are doctors.

startling realization

i estimate that 80% of my interaction is a series of links, interspersed with discussion about those links. here is a recent debate about gun control that i had.

me: Guns with high-capacity clips are like bombs! BOOOO GUNS!
friend: but ali, don’t you think guns have a deterrent effect?
(i then forward this to a journo friend who is writing a story about gun control)
journo friend: speaking of ted nugent
me, to friend 1: go buy some socks.

this of course takes place over the course of an hour or so, and with more words, but i’m pretty sure it sums up my life.

in other “what is my mind coming to” news, i was at a mexican restaurant last night that had about 40 different dishes on the menu. i love all things guacamole and my brain actually thought, “wow, it would be great if i could search this menu for only entrees that included guac.”

and then i made a pledge to find some hiking trails.

reader survey! YOU could control the future of my powerbook

my computer is slowly going to the shits, so i’ve decided that i’m going to have some fun with it. i have whittled it down to two options
1. paint it. turn it white/gold/pink. whatever. any color preferences? or maybe i can make it a work of art.

2. sand all the paint off.

I am sort of leaning toward the second option. i am more of a rough-and-ready populist type. right?

nachos bell grande

rarely am i disappointed by fast food. it is just consistently delicious. but this little reality check (<--awesome site!) has devastated my world. who would have thought that the minimum wage workers couldn't replicate the multi-million dollar beauty of TV and poster ads. who would have thought.
on a related note, why hasn’t taco bell returned to the glorious green onion days of yore? i’m of the belief that green onions make a HUGE difference in the taste of a mexican pizza or nacho supreme. i think the e-coli is gone now and look how amazing those green bits look!

yet again, more circulator troubles

news: circulator bus becomes unhinged and rolls into georgetown building. pictures = awesome.

in other news: about halfway on my route to work (on a circulator, of course), we approach washington circle (near the foggy bottom stop and GWU hospital) and about a gazillion fire trucks/police cars zoom by. no biggie, though. typical DC day. as we pull into the circle, a zippy little cop car parks in front of us. traffic stops. just as swiftly, he pulls out the deadly yellow tape and starts blocking the entire circle. he screams at cars trying to get through. he looks upset. UGH. i watch, knowing this will eventually be a blog post.
just moments before, i was thinking about all the little circulator stories i haven’t been really telling recently. things like the homeless man throwing a sandwich and umbrella at the window i was sitting at or the two times in one week i had to switch buses b/c the one i was on broke down. annoying, but not really noteworthy.
but this, coupled with the bus hitting the building, deserves mention. after i got off the bus, i tried to walk through the circle, assuming it was an accident or something. then the cop yelled at all of us, “STEP BEHIND THE YELLOW TAPE UNLESS YOU WANNA GET BLOWED UP.” hm. i’ll pass on the blowed up. so i walked up two blocks, around the circle, then two blocks back and was ASS LATE for work. i ate a sandwich to mourn the time lost.

no funnies, but some thoughts.

i, for one, got absolutely nothing done at work yesterday, mostly because i was obsessing over all the latest news tidbits coming out about the virginia tech shooting. did anyone else (especially those that followed the news closely like i did), find the incessant need to talk to and be near people, whether it be online over IM or to co-workers next door. as the day wore along, i felt increasingly uncomfortable being alone.

and here’s something that landed in my inbox from poynter (journalism ethics org) about some of the coverage of the shootings. i’m sure there will be plenty more commentary on how the press is handling the situation, but this addresses one of the major problems i’ve seen in the past 24 hours. i haven’t decided who yet is to “blame” here, but the university’s response didn’t strike me completely incompetent or out of line. we’ll have to wait and see. i can’t imagine what it’s like for the school officials who will forever be plagued by the “what if.”

Everyday Ethics
Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Posted by Kelly McBride 11:00:16 AM
Culture of Blame:
Ask the Right Questions of the Right People
Journalists have an obligation to be watchdogs, to question authority and hold the powerful accountable. To that end, the journalists covering the Virginia Tech Massacre should ask if the authorities responded appropriately when they allowed the campus to remain open after the first two murders.

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But asking every student on campus and every John Doe on the street his or her opinion on whether the school should have been locked down is not watchdog journalism. It’s seeding doubt without evidence. It’s planting distrust in the authorities without any indication of malfeasance. It’s answering the question by asking it.

Yes, grill the university president and his administration on this point. That’s appropriate. Delve into the state of mind of the police unraveling the first two killings. That’s investigative journalism. Ask other experts what questions and information the police and the college leadership should have been seeking between the discovery of the first slaughter and beginning of the second. That’s providing the audience with context and holding officials accountable for their actions. Because it is possible that if police dismissed the first two deaths as merely domestic violence, they missed important clues that could have prevented the next 30 deaths. It’s a legitimate question when asked in a setting where it can be analyzed and answered.

But don’t ask witnesses who’ve had to run for their lives. Don’t ask distraught parents. Don’t throw the question into the fray, just to see where it will stick. That’s the tactic of loudmouth shock jocks, not journalists trying to help a nation make sense of a tragedy. When asked repeatedly, of every single person interviewed, that question does nothing to promote accountability and instead becomes an agent of blame, a spark intended to ignite anger as a response to grief.

Questions are powerful tools. But they have to be applied with precision and accuracy. Asked at the wrong time, of the wrong person, a question can become a weapon that causes great harm without achieving any good.