Archive for the ‘News Media’ category

Newsprint Past

October 26, 2014

Junk News Speak

Newsprint Past

There were times and places
when what you purchased
came wrapped in old newspaper
folded as neatly around–let’s say–
your nubby mandarins
as a steam-pressed collar buttoned
over an Adam’s apple,
only tied with a string
and covering everything.

At the end of shopping,
you might carry a stacked jam
like so many ironed shirts
tailored for people with trapezoidal
torsos, or if you lived in Great Britain,
fish and chips.

As you unwrapped
your fine print sacks, sitting at a table bare but for
peel curls, chip chips, you could, between whiffs
of orange or vinegar, peruse
an origami of ads, articles,
the snipped obits of those who some time recently
had died
and the whom they were
survived by,
phrases that kept
you company, quiet companions with interesting
while from outside,
came muted cries–
for those were also times and places
of open windows–not of anguish typically,
or not of extreme anguish–the crows of children
over rules, the hawking
of other vendors,
the banter of true bird, the
hum of machines
on the fly,

sweat nestling at the back
of your neck and inner arms, and,
if you were eating fish and chips,
probably also
your upper lip.

And, believe me, I am not in any way touting
those times –I am pretty sure
that while you were sitting there eating, some woman
in the background
was scrubbing pots, and some person of color
mopping stairs, and while there’s nothing wrong
with pots or stairs, scrubbing  and mopping,
they are not so great
as ultimate options, not to mention the fear stored in
closet shadows,
along with the broom handles, buckets, lye.

I’m just saying that newsprint seems a
helluva lot better to me
than plastic, no matter how
it’s used, and by plastic I don’t just mean
what now wraps all we buy,
but also what we see–that transfixed hair
upon the screen, the fake smiles,
smirks, the scooped pronouncements passing
as some synopsis of
the world’s long day, so much shiny
cheap, thin,
packaging, so much
to throw away.


This isn’t so much a poem as a rant.  I wrote it originally for Mary’s prompt on dVerse Poets to write about news – and am posting it on dVerse’s Open LInk Night

This is an old drawing, but seemed to fit. 


January 26, 2013

Junk News Speak


I try to skip the me-me-media
the talking heads of hair and tedia–
though it can be fun to watch those ‘dos
bob above their soundbite stews.

Still, the fact is there are those who will
shill and shill and shill and shill–
fake some outrage, mime some shock
though careful to keep every lock
of curl and bang and tress in place
while they fecklessly ape chase
of stories they tilt like a table
of pinballs whizzed right through the cable.

Instead I try to read and read,
or watch whole tapes, a whole news feed,
(Oh, sure I fail, sure I miss out–
there’s tons I don’t know much about.)
And maybe what I read ain’t fair,
But at least my news don’t come with hair.


Here’s a kind of silly poem for dVerse Poets Pub, hosted by the wonderful Brian Miller, on the subject of media.  I don’t read as much news as I should to be fully informed.  On the other hand, I do try to avoid TV news (don’t have a working TV), but I do get some news from clips!  And I think print media tends to be a bit more thorough and less narcissistic.  (That’s just my take though, and honestly, I don’t watch TV news so probably shouldn’t speak to it.) 

Can’t read the paper (not a problem of eyes.)

December 7, 2010

Lately I just can’t make myself read the newspaper.  Everything turns my stomach.   The New York Times especially.

I’ve even begun  to wonder whether the paper is following its ordinary lay-out; nothing holds the eye.

 This is not because the news is sad–some of it, such as the death of Elizabeth Edwards, certainly is.   Oddly, I can stand to read that story even though I  feel terribly sorry for Mrs. Edwards and certainly her children; there are elements of courage, strength, tragic loss.

Is it just me?  My over-stimulated ADD?

Or are stories laced with greed, posturing, and self-righteousness more sickening than stories about cancer? 

All the tax business, all the Wikileaks business, all the posturing, self-righteous business, all the posturing in the name of ‘small business’ business, all the greed.

I don’t think I would mind it so much if people flat-out admitted their weaknesses—if the New York Times, for example, in connection with its publication of all the Wikileaks stuff, said, “look, we want readers.”   

If the Republican leadership flat-out said, “look, we serve the rich.”   

 If Obama just said, “look, they’ve got me in a stranglehold.” 

Actually, I guess Obama is kind of saying that.  My eyes, heart, stomach, simply find it very hard to take.


Overly Cute Depictions of Fox (both as in News and Tails)

August 25, 2010

Unfortunately, it sometimes feels like Comedy Central, through the Daily Show with Jon Stewart and the Colbert Report, provides the most probing commentary on TV.   In the August 23rd episode, Stewart examines Fox News’ allegations of possible nefarious ties between Park51, the organization trying to build the Islamic Center near Ground Zero, and the Kingdom Foundation run, as the Fox morning show casts it, by a shadowy “guy”, vaguely brought up next to the words Iran, ” who tried to give Rudy Giuliani 10 million after 9/11 and they had to give it back, a guy who funds radical madrassas all over the world.”  This “guy”, never actually named by Fox, is then revealed by Stewart to be Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, head of Kingdom Foundation, also a major shareholder in News Corporation, parent corp of  Fox News.

The Daily Show goes on with a rif on whether Fox’s  failure to properly identify Bin Talal arose from evil or stupidity (Wyatt Cenac taking the part of evil, John Oliver siding with stupid).

I was inspired.  Unfortunately, I can’t draw mordant, only cute.  Still, after doing the drawings, I noticed a suprising, if vague, resemblance—

Sly Fox


Dazed/ Dizzy  (I won’t say Stupid) Fox


(Note that the above images are subject to copyright.)

Business of News – the News Corp Business (and others)

August 18, 2010

"Conflict of Interest Wall"

I started today to write a post about conflicts of interest:  all that business about the News Corporation (as in Rupert Murdoch’s empire and parent company of Fox News) and its $1 million donation to the Republican Governors’ Association–

I started to write about News Corporation’s protest that the donation did not represent a shadow on the “fair and balanced” reporting of Fox News.  News claims any conflict of interest is nullified by the separation in its news division (the subsidiary company that didn’t make the donation) and its business division (the parent company that did make the donation).

This immense separation between the business side of the conglomerate and the news side is apparent even in the corporate name: “News” being one word and “Corporation” being another.

I included (in that not-published post) paraphrased jokes from Going Postal, the wonderful satire by the wonderful Terry Pratchett, in which Mr. Slant, zombie lawyer, explains the “Agatean Wall”, a barrier against abuse arising from conflicts of interest.

“‘How does it work exactly?” asked Vetinari.

“People agree not to do it, my Lord,” said Mr. Slant.

“I’m sorry.  I thought you said there was a wall,” said Lord Vetinari.

“That’s just a name for agreeing not to do it.”

In that post, I had all kinds of witty jokes.

And then, I got too depressed to finish that post.  Because the truth is that few of the people who go to Fox for their news will care about the big Republican donation.  (If they know of it.)

The fact is that news is a business in this country; news organizations have constituencies of consumers;  people tend to prefer reinforcement to challenge; in other words, they don’t mind biases in news, as long as the biases correspond to their own.   Which brings me to the item that kept me from finishing my other post – today’s headline in the New York Daily News (ironically not owned by the News Corporation) which claimed that Obama was supporting the 9/11 Mosque but not health care for 9/11 first responders, the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.  This, in spite of the fact that the Zadroga bill was defeated by Republicans in Congress, not by Obama or the Dems; in spite of the fact too, that Obama has not exactly supported the 9/11 Mosque (that’s been a source of complaint on other fronts) –  he’s supported freedom of religion on private property in accordance with local law.

So this evening Obama has released a statement explicitly saying that he looked forward to signing the Zadroga bill, when passed by Congress.  This, of course, is being touted by the Daily News as its personal victory.   No where does the victory article mention that Republicans have so far killed the bill, not Obama.   (I guess this level and kind of detail would not sell papers, even in NYC .)

The BBC, Mitch Miller, Insularity of U.S. News (Mommy Kissing Santa Claus)

August 3, 2010

Mitch Miller? (Looking for Mommy)

I’m a New Yorker.  I tend to read the New York Times and feel proud that it’s not the Post. But every once in a while, I feel a need to go further afield, usually to the BBC, partly so I can just listen to news rather than read it.  (If you don’t already know, the BBC has a wonderful site, in multiple languages with non-stop online “radio” choices.)

An hour of listening quickly changes one’s world view.  For one thing, it converts it into a world view.

This morning, for example, the BBC news stream gave time to the Papauan dissident with whom it had snagged an exclusive interview.  It reported the flooding in Pakistan; it quoted the South African judge sentencing a mendacious police chief; it interviewed the little Yemeni girls whose family took them from school when WHO stopped trading wheat for attendance and the girls’ mother who had to give them blood a couple of times against malnutrition.  It discussed a new novel about Afghanistan, some controversy involving Mossad, the current violence in Karachi.

Some of these stories were also reported in the New York Times, but when I looked at the online Times this morning, my eye kept hooking onto Mitch Miller’s goatee.  (Today’s article on Mitch was actually about an unsuccessful attempt to interview him.  Hmm….)

Sorry.  I actually love human interest stories;  I also loved Mitch Miller.  (Not just the Christmas hits; not only the happy accordian rifs–I will remember how my six-year-old heart twanged to The Prisoner’s Song till my final rest in the arms of my poor darling.)

What strikes one in listening to the BBC is how big the world is, how busy.  What is striking too is how local the many conflicts are–even as they are related to more universal issues of economics, religion, race == how they are played out in so many very local, very complicated ways.  In discussing the killings in Karachi, for example, the BBC talked of the number of Pashtuns in the city.  (To be fair, the Times mentioned Pastuns in their Karachi article too, but in a somehow more muted way.)    And me, I think “Pashtun”, that they are in Central Asia, Afghanistan.  Green eyes come vaguely to mind.

But what I am mainly impressed by is how little I know.  Like, sadly, most Americans.

What also impresses me is how much our regular news  (and I really don’t mean the Times here) often seems to reinforce our insularity and our ignorance of the world rather than dispelling them.   So that we can convince ourselves that we are well-informed simply because our homes have some kind of news feed 24/7–when often all that feed is telling us is about the time Mommy was seen kissing Santa Claus, or worse, suspected of kissing Santa Claus.

Junk “News” Nation – Twinkie/French Fry Speak Takes Bat At Kagan

May 16, 2010

Junk News Speak

Over the last few months on this blog, I’ve periodically embarrassed myself with confessions of my escapist fascination with vampire novels (and certain actors who play their starring characters.)  My only excuse has been a combination of stress, a decaying brain, and—I admit it—a wish to get “hits”.

Given my own weaknesses, I very much understand the drive of the news media (a) to sell papers; and (b) to get people to watch, or click on, their programming.

I also understand that legal theorizing, judicial precedent, and the parsing of amici briefs, can be–well, let’s say, boring. (We won’t go all the way to stultifying.)

As a result, I can imagine the glee of cable TV newsrooms when, faced with new Supreme Court nominee, Elena Kagan, they found something other than Roe v Wade to hang a story on.

But, come on!  An old photograph–not of  the judicial nominee drunk and philandering, or speaking at a segregated club, or even wearing a funny hat–but playing softball?!  A game which is supposed to be the all American past-time, but which we now discover (after endless media discussion) is truly a code activity for gayness!

It’s all just so goofy (and sickening)–a dumb and dumber approach to news which relates to relevant fact in about the same way that tweeting relates to exposition.  Snarkiness substitutes for commentary; smirks for analysis; talking heads become chuckle heads as they fall over themselves to say that (a) they are not saying anything; and (b) by the way, did you get it?

In the same way that fast and processed food has taken the place of real food (food stripped of nutrients and hyped instead with artificial color, ultra-fructose sweeteners, and loads and loads of trans fat and salt), we now have fatty, salty, simpering gossip replacing real news, news that takes thought, and provokes thought.

At least, vampire novels don’t pose as anything but entertainment;  at least, the vampires in them openly show their fangs.