Out of touch

    Did anybody witness the recent and now-infamous “fist bump” between Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle?

    A fist bump or “closed-fisted high-five,” as The New York Times referred to it, is commonly called a “pound” or “dap.” It’s been used for decades as a greeting or a gesture to signify respect. What it’s not is “Hezbollah-style fist-jabbing” the nutty, ignorant, racist fear mongers call it.

    Fox News aside, does this mean that neither The Times nor the Washington Post, which called it “fist bump,” had people in their newsrooms who could enlighten fellow editors about today’s lingo? And if that’s the case, shouldn’t readers be worried?

    I remember a discussion with a co-worker a while back about fair and accurate representation by media. She said some of the journalism coming out of our newsroom — and others around the country — suffers because of homogeneity among its representatives: Many of us are around the same age, married with children, and live in modest homes in middle-class neighborhoods. She went on to say that we’re not paying attention to wide representation among sources in stories either, thus forgoing variety and complexity for convenience and familiarity.

    Knowing this, could an African-American college student from out of state depend on us to report the news in a way in which he could relate? On news that matters to him? How about a single mom on welfare who is working two jobs to pay her rent? Or a lesbian shopkeeper living in a “gay-friendly” part of the city.

    Who in the newsroom is serving these vastly different individuals? Because it’s not us. Not yet.

    It all makes me sad, really. We journalists couldn’t even call a pound by its true name. Now the inaccuracy has us going out like fist-bumping suckers.

    And if we can’t get something so simple right, how much more are we getting wrong?

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    3 Responses to “Out of touch”

    1. 1 benjamin Says:

      Great post.
      Give me an elevated, right handed, slightly bent at the elbow, clamped knuckled hand touch with mine please.

    2. 2 ron wade Says:

      Excellent point, crisply put. And as staffs shrink and fewer people enter the general ranks, the worse the problem gets.

      We miss you down here, Minal.


    3. 3 Greg Says:

      I agree with you in general, but I’m not sure this is the best example. Or I’m overestimating how many people know what a “fist bump” is, and knew before the recent bumpgate. Even my father, a 58-year-old white man from Utah, was perplexed by the flap. “I’m pretty sure I’ve done that,” he told me the other day.
      To me this is more an example of trying to (over?) explain things we write about to a broad readership, like identifying Nelly as a rapper every time we refer to him or what have you. Ninety percent of people may know that, but my grandmother doesn’t, and she reads the paper.

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