Thursday, March 15, 2007

Fox News

First, a laugh. With a groan.

Newsweek had this, courtesy of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution; I thank them both for it.

As for what *I* think of the FoxTube, you really don't want to get me started on this one. I don't even watch TV news any more, and those FoxFolks aren't worthy of being called journalists most of the time.

So why did I say yes to a quick interview today? Vanity or nostalgia for my Media Girl persona or inability to keep my mouth shut or misplaced sense of responsibility or just not thinking? There I was, walking out of the office after class to go for a quick lunch before the first meeting of the afternoon, and there they were again, at one of the major campus intersections. I think the college laid down the law a few weeks ago that only a limited part of the campus would be available to media. We've had a situation here, as you may have read or heard. (The local alternative weekly has been attentive to many aspects of the story.)

Wouldn't you know this would be the ONE day I left the house without makeup. And while I usually dress up (a little - this is a rather informal setting) on the days I teach, I was almost running late, and the weather was warm and I figured the students in my seminar would enjoy meeting outside, in which case we'd be sitting on the grass, so I'd better wear clothes that would survive that close encounter with God's green earth. My buddy Victoria, a.k.a. PeaceBang (whose blog I visit often and participate in pseudonymously) will not be amused when she hears about this. Oh the horror. At least I was wearing earrings.

As for the interview, it was all of a few seconds long, and I refused to answer the question right off the bat; I took a few moments to think. Came up with the appropriate comment. Tried as usual to reframe the issue in a couple of sentences. That was it. Kept my glasses on, which I don't usually on television, but this called for the pundit look, and besides, they're new.

Much better coverage of course here and here. Those two were older stories, but they were pretty good. The New York Times short one a month ago was terrible. hasty, superficial, full of clichés. Our student newspaper, impressively for a group of young people who had strong opinions and were in the heat of it all, initially did a genuine job of reporting.

Today's news is brief and the local paper promises more for tomorrow.

I come from a media family. So as the daughter and sister of journalists (of whom I am immensely proud) I can't help but be interested in the news and how it is reported, and how its reporting is changing. I write, I had a radio show for a while here on campus, I used to co-host a radio show in Boston, I was a regular guest on a tv show there, and I have been both interviewer and interviewee on and off, most of my adult life. I've also been at a lot of events that have been covered by newspeople, and that's an interesting one too. You're in a demonstration or a liturgy and then you read about it, or watch it, or hear about it on the radio, and sometimes you wonder whether you and the reporter (or commentator) were at the same event. Sometimes not. I've also been a participant-observer a lot.

Given the complexity of the situation here in the aftermath of the fight, and the high emotions on campus, I have felt it is more my job to serve the situation as an educator and (not my official job here but it's part of who I am) minister (and many, many faculty, some more than I, have been confidantes and sounding boards for students during the past weeks), so I have stayed away from the TV types, intentionally, and spoken only to one or two very carefully chosen media folks, never from television and usually on background.

So how are things at Guilford? Not sure I can do it justice here in blog-land. Calmer. Still soul-searching about the causes and consequences --personal and systemic-- of the January 20 attack (or fight, or altercation, depending who's talking). Mostly, this week, people are just back from spring break overwhelmed with overwork. Next week we continue the teach-ins and happily, Tim Tyson, whose book Blood Done Sign My Name I've been reading, is coming to speak.

I don't see this as a short-term reporting space. And what we're doing on campus is, in any case, a long-term piece of work, as I told the Fox people. Just because the DA dropped the charges --and the college internal judicial hearings concluded before spring break-- doesn't mean that the hurt or the questions go away or that the need to examine a host of patterns, attitudes, relationships, and policies disappears. Not very sexy or TV-worthy stuff, but it's what's there and there are real humans and institutions involved.

Back to our regularly scheduled programming. And lipstick in the morning.


Catherine said...

Greetings Janet. You were pointed by Dave at The Cartoon Church blog and so here I am. Great blog here. I will add you to my blog roll at and share your URL with some others of like minds :-), I know, it's a scary but happy thought. Blessings on your work here and elsewhere.


Jane R said...

Thanks, Catherine! (By the way, it's Jane, not Janet.) Your blog is very poetic.