Posts Tagged ‘election 2008’

    For the country

    Sunday, July 13th, 2008

    I participated in the political process yesterday. It was the first time I did so, and it was rather satisfying. 

    One stipulation of being a journalist is that an individual must stay away from engaging in activities that would reveal any bias. Sure, it’s a sensible stipulation. But considering that journalists are among the most opinionated individuals on Earth, some begrudgingly follow this principle.

    So, even though the decision to leave newspapers was a difficult one, I felt lucky yesterday to do things that were forbidden in my old job. Such as volunteering with Barack Obama’s campaign to get people to register to vote.

    I got two people registered, which felt like sweet victory, but I was outside for two hours in what was the hottest, muggiest day in St. Louis thus far.

    Democracy is hard. 

    Out of touch

    Saturday, June 14th, 2008

    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?

    Double standard

    Friday, May 23rd, 2008

    Hillary Clinton is getting a raw deal. That’s not in reference to her politics; it’s in reference to her gender.

    The never-ending race for the Democratic presidential nomination between Clinton and Barack Obama is peeling back layers and layers of this country’s long-shot hope for equality.

    Sexism vs. racism — which is more offensive?

    Ideally, we want to believe that both are regarded with an equal degree of seriousness, because both are forms of discrimination — plain and simple. Realistically, however, that isn’t the case. Realistically, we tolerate sexism far more than we do racism.


    Way back in January, while addressing supporters at a campaign stop in New Hampshire, Clinton was interrupted by two men who stood up with signs and repeatedly yelled, “Iron my shirt!” The signs matched their moronic proclamation. Soon after the outbursts, the men were escorted out of the building, not to be heard of or from again.

    Ah, the remnants of sexism — alive and well,” Clinton said after the commotion subsided.

    Upon hearing the news, reaction around the newsroom consisted of incredulity mixed with laughter. There was something about the incident that prompted some to chuckle, and conclude how ridiculous certain people can be.

    Now, I’d like to present another scenario:
    Let’s say that Obama was at a rally. And during his speech, two individuals stood up flaunting signs and yelling, “Shine my shoes!”

    What would the reaction be to that? Would there be chuckles? Would the occurrence be chalked up merely as ridiculous? Would we forget about it three days later? Or would the media latch on to the episode to spurn scores of news stories and analyses about race relations in America?

    We’d quickly describe “Shine my shoes!” toward Obama as hate speech. But never once have I heard someone describe the “Iron my shirt!” demand toward Clinton as hate speech.

    Sexism and racism are both, by law, equal forms of discrimination. Yet they don’t prompt equal responses. 


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