Last week, much of the nation's conversation focused not on the War in Iraq or Afghanistan. Not on the fired U.S. Attorneys controversy or Karl Rove's "accidental" deletion of key email documents related to the firings. Not how the cellphone may be the cause for the dwindling bee population around the world.
Or even the O'Reilly/Geraldo verbal fight.
Instead, media -- and even personal conversions among friends and coworkers -- were fixated on the Don Imus scandal.
At first, his broadcast corporate owners were forced to suspend his national radio and simulcast cable TV show for two weeks.
When the uproar refused to die down (and the ratings on news channels kept going up), Al Sharpton's interest group cranked up the pile-on pressure, leading major advertisers to drop their advertising sponsorships. Once this happened, the end was inevitable. MSNBC and CBS Radio both were forced to cancel his show entirely and send the I-Man back to his ranch to contemplate the error of his ways and consider a possible retirement for his 30-year-plus Hall of Fame broadcast career.
The lesson learned?
Big Media has lost control of their content.
(Well, actually, they lost it years ago...but Big Media desperately tries to maintain their grip with the remaining fingernails they haven't nibbled down to nubs.)
Broadcast content no longer is something that just dissipates after its aired. While most listeners or viewers treat broadcast content as disposable, someone is recording...ready to exploit both excellent content as well as potential gaffs in judgement in order to satirize, criticize, reinterpret, spoof or simply to use as a base argument in the fight against social injustices.
Should the nation have been so transfixed on this issue? Was this naval-gazing really necessary? Will it actually create social change...or will our short attention spans just move on like society tends to move on after every scandal?
(Anna Nicole and Britney was so two months ago.)
Were the Three Nasty Words (which were nasty, wrong, and over the line of taste, respect and manners) aimed at the Rutgers University women's basketball team deserving of Tragedy Coverage?
Because feelings were hurt, did this deserve National Outrage?
Does racism suck, does bigotry and misogyny exist and should we stop prejudicial injustice?
Does this country need to make Improving Social Harmony Between Races, Classes, Genders and Ethnicities a national and governmental priority requiring regular conversation and debate in order to move forward and heal past and current injustices?
This is a Presidential job. It requires Presidential leadership. And it should be a permanent job responsibility.
What deserves National Outrage?
What deserves 24/7 Media Tragedy Coverage?
The shocking, awful and criminal catastrophe Monday morning on the campus of Virginia Tech, resulting in the deaths of 32 innocent, gunned-down victims.
We have two examples of college students being attacked in the last 2 weeks. One group of students were verbally attacked through the crass use of three disparaging words during a radio/TV show those students never heard live on-air. They had never listened to nor watched Imus before this scandal. Their hurt only came after other's made them aware of it. After other's exposed and pushed forward the issue.
This attack did not change the documented and permanent result that the Rutgers is this year's NCAA division 1 women's basketball semi-finalists.
On the other hand, another group of students were physically and mortally attacked by a fellow student packed with heavy weapons and apparent mental issues. These 32 students were murdered in less than two hours of real terror.
This is the story deserving national, interest group, parental, academic and media outrage. Everyone is and should be outraged and saddened. This is real Tragedy.
There is a clear and obvious Tragedy difference in these events.
One is the violent weapon of words, stupidity, bad manners, disrespect and spin. Yes, it was a serious problem that needed to be addressed, brought to attention and fixed; apologies needed to be (and were) made. The other is actual violence, shaking the foundations of trust and security on our valued institutions.
Which event is the real tragedy?
The world wants to know where America stands today, what American values remain essential and true. America needs to heal. It does not need more violence.
Violence should not be the American brand.
There is real anger and frustration in our society. We all play a part in finding a solution.
What lessons will we learn from these two very different issues, these different tragedies?
And how will the media choose to influence pop culture and political action?
posted by Chris Kennedy @ Tuesday, April 17, 2007,