Wednesday, September 12, 2007

(At Least) Three Jeers For The Press (Pt. 1)

I once was both a Pre-Journalism major and (for all of about one semester, pretty much up until a day or so after my Print Media professor told me that if I just wanted to write I didn't need a J-School degree to do it, I needed a portfolio showing what I could do). There are times I miss it. Lately though, there are times where I wonder what shoddy J-Schools are turning out the folks spewing the drivel covering newspapers and the airwaves.

Oh sure, when it comes to political journalism, much as I'd like to blame it on some conspiracy that employees the same semi-literates that worked for the University of Tennessee's student paper (sic), it's really just a kind of cultural nepotism at work. (Oh, and if your last name is Kristol and your dad's first name is Irving, it's just plain nepotism.) Say what the politicians in power want you to say (or what the politicians planning to be in power want you to say) and presto: you're Thomas Friedman.

Or Charles Krauthammer.

And so on.

(Depressing sidebar I realized while writing this, that I figure I'll share with you because it might explain me a little bit better: I have yet to have a continuous, steady relationship last long enough to celebrate a first Friedman Unit anniversery. I've dated a lot. A lot. And there've been relationships that lasted longer overall. But never the more-or-less happy together for a full half a year. I blame the media for this. But it's also possible I'm just an asshole.)

But over the past few years, there has been a trickle down effect (no GOP faithful, not the economy--that's a different post altogether). Shitty, out-of-touch political columnists are listened to, and their unsubstantiated opinions have been picked up by (formerly) respectable journalisitic outlets. The New York Times was hoodwinked (or willingly complicit, you decide which is more or less comforting a thought) into the whole "don't let the smoking gun be an atom bomb" WMD meme leading up to the pre-emptive war with Iraq. FoxNews was (sadly) not the only major TV news outlet to run with the "this ad is mean to Gen. Petraeus" meme, and worse, they do this on the same day multiple newspapers run the poll results stating that a majority of Americans are thinking there's a decent chance they'll see Bush's lips move when Petraeus is talking.

If Watergate symbolized the tipping point where it suddenly was no longer radical to not trust the government, surely the past 5 years or so has pushed the idea that not trusting the mainstream press on manners political isn't just for folks that own Noam Chomsky books.

Glen Greenwald has a nice depantsing of Brit Hume's journalistic credentials up (with cringe-inducing clips of the "interview" with Gen. Sit Ubu, sit. Good Dog Petraeus). The New York Times claims they've learned from their Iraq mistake, let's see if their coverage throws in needless references to the threat of Iran (said threats will likely contain scare quotes from President Ahmadinejad, without bothering to point out that in the Iranian political structure, "President" doesn't mean the same thing as it does here...unless you're maybe looking to make some sort of Dick Cheney joke.)

But so what if the political press is out of touch and occasionally doing its best impersonation of Pravda? They can still fairly and accurately talk football right?

Well, maybe not. (Hereafter in this section my criticism is focused solely on the local paper, which I will not mention by name as I think their sports department operates on a "if they hate us we can sell more ads" philosophy. It's the only theory that explains Mark Bradley unless, when released, the DSM-V has a disorder related to habitually jumping on and off bandwagons.)

First, there was Monday's paper, in which the Falcons, who did look sub-par, but not terrible, were thrown under the bus, shot, given the Rasputin treatment, and the William Wallace treatment, particularly from Terrance Moore. What was ignored were these tidbits of info:
1. The game was 7-0 at halftime.
2. The Defense, while gashed by a 1st round draft pick at RB (widely considered the best RB in the draft) kept the score low (can't hold a pick 6 against a defense.)
3. Harrington's two INTs came off of: a pass tipped at the line, and a ball that HIT MICHAEL JENKINS IN THE HANDS.

Harrington gets ripped (after months of Vick getting ripped) when the OLine's inconsistent blocking and Jenkins hands of lead were the real culprits.

Are the Falcons a wild-card team this year? Sorry Bill Simmons, no, they aren't. But are they the worst? Terrance Moore must have not watched Kansas City or Cleveland play.

But what was worse was their combo "feature" (sic) on Tuesday's sports section, and the front page teaser: (paraphrase) "Why Tech is so Great and UGA sucks."
They harped on all the things UGA did wrong in one loss, ignored what went right the one win, and talked about Tech's unstoppable running game and defense. They missed a few important points though. Such as:
Combined record of UGA's first two opponents: 3-1
Combined record of Tech's first two opponents: 0-4
Number of 1-AA, tiny Alabama Universities that played UGA in the first two games: 0
Number of offenses ranked below Notre Dame after two games: 0
Number of offensive touchdowns scored, for the season, by Notre Dame: 0
Number of currently ranked opponents faced by Tech in the first two games: 0

So I guess what I'm getting at is I hope the paper at least stays consistent and throws Tech's QB and coaches under the bus after BC lays what I hope will be a ginormous beat down on Tech Saturday. And even if Tech loses by say, 4 points but with a chance to win in the final minute, and Tashard Choice has over 100 yds, they should structure the coverage as if they lost by 50,and turned it over like Mississippi State vs. LSU crossed with Baltimore's Monday Night Football performance.

And yeah, they're getting even entertainment wrong. Expanded thoughts about Britney Spears are really worthy of a separate post, so check back in a day or so...especially if you're Ms. Spears, one of her handlers, or just looking for a free summary of what articles in Neil Strauss and Chuck Klosterman's latest books say about her.

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