Tag Archives: tv

The imMEDIAcy

breaking news

BREAKING: Every time a nationally broadcasted disaster occurs, we are reminded of the shortcomings of mass media, particularly the need to get the facts first… even if they’re not correct. But we need answers. We crave crave imMEDIAcy.

April was full of a lot of shocking headlines, and the Boston Marathon bombings certainly caught the attention of the nation. As a member of the Massachusetts media, I was on especially high alert during the event, and as someone living not too far from the happenings, I was pretty shaken up. Still, in the aftermath of all of this, I can’t help but try to shed some light on the issue — not the act, but the response.

It’s All CNN’s Fault… Right? After the TV news station’s premature report that officials had a suspect in custody, CNN was blasted for their incorrect reporting. This type of thing happens every time. It’s just a question of who will blow it first. But here, we can’t honestly point the finger at CNN.

The (not always) all-knowing wire service that is the Associated Press (AP) was first to tweet the false news. CNN just picked it up first. After them, a domino-effect of reporting — the New York Times (and ALLLL the media outlets they own, including the Boston Globe) and others including the one I work for, as the report trickled down from the source. In these modern times, and especially these times of tragedy and FBI searching, the audience is waiting. And newsrooms have to put out something. It’s that immediate craving for an answer that drives us to hasty decisions and CNN to a bad rap. Thanks, AP.


Sources? It’s a Secret. In that same vein, my mind was puzzled by a local TV station. The Wednesday following the event, newscasters in the area were still on 24-hour watch, showing a pretty boring shot of the Boston courthouse, rambling about potential leads, photos, etc. The area held their breath. And during that time, after the CNN misstep, one newscaster raised the question — “And you’re probably wondering. You hear us say all the time ‘our sources… our sources,’ but who are these sources we’re mentioning?” If only she had answered the question.

The newscaster and her sidekick stumbled around the answer, saying they didn’t want to give up too much about their secret methods. Anonymity never made any journalist look good, per se, but these anchors were clearly not prepared for the can of worms they had just accidentally opened. I’m sure “their sources” were on the right side of the misreported suspects, too.

The most listened to scanners on Friday, after the bombings. Note Wisconsin.

The most listened to scanners on Friday, after the bombings. Note Wisconsin.

Police Scanners During a crazy, frightening, unexpected event like the Boston Marathon bombing, responses can be impulsive. During the Watertown manhunt on Friday, tens of thousands turned to local police scanners, as the independent journo in all local citizens came out. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with this practice, police scanners (harboring sometimes unverified information) plus Twitter, can make for some spotty, quickly spread information. (The general theme here.)

Scanners were eventually shut off to online listeners… and good thing. Just take a look at that screen grab via someone I follow on Twitter. Watertown, Wisconsin. Oh, the imMEDIAcy.


Four Easy Ways to Relive the 90s

Phew, finally off the bus. School’s over, and as soon as your Lisa Frank backpack hits the floor, the Power Rangers are taking over your living room. Between commercials for Kids Bop and the next episode of Wishbone, you’re busy having the fight of your life. Pokémon sleeps for no one. While these staples of the 90s might seem decades in the past, here are four ways to relive those golden years quicker than you can connect with dial-up.

These people know what’s up, homie.

Gear Up

Hold on, Alex Mac. Before you shrink into the metallic pool and slip into the 90s, there are a couple of supplies you’re going to need. Grab your denim scrunchie to hide your twenty-something bed head and venture to the nearest grocery store (preferably via Razor scooter). If your local market doesn’t have a fancy vintage food aisle, just head for the snacks, junk food, and no regrets.

That’s right – throw body-consciousness out the window. If only for the day, you’re a kid again. You have the metabolism of a hummingbird and need to keep your energy up for all of the couch-sitting, recess, and mindless GameBoy activity you’ve got planned for the day.

While some of our most beloved snacks and bad foods have fallen from the shelves – Oreo O’s, Dorito 3D’s, and cartoon-imprinted Eggo waffles – thank goodness there are still some golden oldies that have lived on into the 21st century and survived the health food trend.

First, get the sugary snacks in the cart. Your afternoon cartoon fest wouldn’t be complete without Dunkaroo’s, Gushers, Fruit Roll-Ups, and Pop Rocks. Grab all that and a bag of chips and a box or two of Bagel Bites.

Get Outside

Remember when you used to practically live on your bike/rollerblades/skateboard/scooter? Prior to your current set of wheels (and adult responsibilities ) life was sweet, and staying outside in the afternoon was a must unless Pokémon was on.

Before that sugar high you’re riding drives you straight into the ground, grab a kickball and some friends (who preferably also grew up in the 90s). Hacky sack and Bop-It are also acceptable, and if the weather permits, get out the Slip ‘N’ Slide. Remember, all of these activities will be better the more times you repeat “as if,” “jiggie with it,” and “rad.” And if you manage to double-dog-dare one of your homies, you’re the honorary 90s kid of the day.

Use Your Resources

Ok, so some might consider this cheating, but the Web (which is this new thing you’ve probably never heard of) has a lot of great opportunities to rewatch all those Nick toons, melodramatic Disney teen-dramas, and every Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles battle you could ever hope for.

If you’re really dedicated, see if you can find a copy of Netscape and YouTube the shit out of some dial-up noise.

Now that you’ve got your snacking down, your cholesterol up, and have probably pulled a muscle, it’s time for the entertainment.

Netflix has many cartoons on instant view, if you’re looking for a quick, legal way to get your Nick fix. Wind your way through the morning classics with some Rugrats, Rocko, and Hey Arnold – all of which are on Instant View.

As a child of the 90s, you know how to dig up what you want out of the internet. You grew up with this stuff. You’re an old pro. Classics like Clarissa Explains It All, Daria, and Beevis and Butthead are out there, just waiting to be watched. Strut your 90s tech-cleverness. Retrostatic.com also has a ton of old commercials and TV intros for your viewing pleasure, and don’t forget about the piles of 90s hits on YouTube. Line up your Beanie Babies and sing your heart out to some Spice Girls.

As you ease into the afternoon, go out with some good clean, family-oriented Full House and Growing Pains… because you know you still have the theme songs fully memorized. Admit it.

If you’re a diehard going for the full experience, ditch the Internets. There are still a handful of 90s shows still on the air. While the jokes in The Simpsons might have changed a bit since it started, it’s still going strong.

Nick at Night claims to show older shows, but Family Matters might be the only show not from the 2000s. Scary, isn’t it? Teen Nick has also carved out some air time for old classics.

Get Supa Fly

Why did everyone on TV in the 90s look so frumpy? While the 90s might not have been the best decade for fashion, we all remember it fondly. You might not want to go outside in your pink paisley shorts or Osh Kosh overalls. The light-up LA Gears could maybe stay.

One designer that we’re all familiar with is still making her mark. She was funded by everyone’s school supplies, rainbow lunchboxes, and patterned Trapper Keepers – Lisa Frank.

If your eyes can handle the fluorescent colors and multitude of cute cartoon animals, everyone’s favorite tacky trendsetter has a website where you can stock up on office supplies that will surely make your co-workers jealous. Too embarrassed to flaunt Lisa’s pens, stationery, and endless rolls of stickers? No problem, dude. She’s also got apparel that’s perfect as a nostalgic nightie.

MTV at my university


Amusing Ourselves to Death

Last week, in between worrying about two looming 20-page papers, I was watching the Daily Show because sometimes even cynical me needs a little sugar to help the medicine go down. As much as I love watching Jon Stewart sometimes his level of awareness makes me sad. Yes, he’s doing comedic routines on the news, and he’s a TV persona like so many others, but it seems like he’s sometimes a little put off by reality.

In the episode I watched, he brought attention to the email hacking and attempted debunking that surrounded the topic of global climate change at Climategate in 2009. At the time, it caused a lot of skepticism around the topic and suggested that scientists had been manipulating the data to show climate change; this caused a nearly 20% drop in the acknowledgement of climate change.

While networks had a “field day” during this time, no one bothered to mention that a study intended to disprove climate change, funded by Tea Party oil tycoons, the Koch brothers, actually reaffirmed the science behind it.

What, you may ask, was distracting the broadcast news groups to the point that they missed this gem of information? McDonald’s reintroduced the McRib sandwich. I’ll just give you a minute to let that soak in. Yes, today’s news is more focused on annual fast food specials than something that could very well bring us all to our demise (Although, I guess you could argue that McDonald’s could also bring us all to our demise).

So where does the title of this quaint Editor’s Corner come in? Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business is a book by educator Neil Postman written in 1985. In his book, Postman relies on the fictitious futuristic dystopias given to us by the great Orwell and Huxley. These books, however, are becoming more of a reality. The author leans more towards the world of Huxley’s Brave New World, in which the people medicate themselves into bliss and voluntarily give up their rights. Postman argues that news has become an entertainment source, and another form of distraction.

As scary as it is, we all need a serious wake up call – to global climate change, to what’s important, to what is detrimental to the sustenance of life as we know it. Without an importance placed on serious issues, the masses will just fade into the mindless babble of social networking, commercials, and reality TV. We very well may end up amusing ourselves to death… if the McRib doesn’t kill us first.