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Too Much Media, Not Enough Message

“Kick em when their up, kick em when their down, kick em in the teeth, kick em all around.”
- Joe Walsh Dirty Laundry

 Do you really think that back in the day when Eric Severeid, Sander Van Ocher, Walter Cronkite, and Dan Rather actually reported news that a comment Aaron Rowand made about his love for a childhood idol (Chicago “da Bears”that he eventually got to play for albeit in a different sport) would ever have taken up hours upon hours of “talk show” air time.  To begin with, there weren’t hours upon hours of idle air time to fill necessitating having callers provide content that the hosts lacked.  Look at some of the examples from our not to distant past, and put this in perspective.  This is a far cry from Howard Kossel’s “Look at that little monkey move.” This would never have made the third page of  the sporting green during the “Cold War.”

The point is that were there used to be 3 stations in a market, shutting down at midnight each day, now there are 300 running 24/7.  The “need” to fill hundreds of more hours worth of “air time” has generated a thirst for information, ANY information, and drastically lowered the bar on what we deem “newsworthy.”

Secondarily, he has a big contract with the Giants (that they were foolish enough to give him) that he is not living up to.  Thirdly, although the Giants are still in first place, they are batting dead last in the National League, if not all of baseball.  Aaron hasn’t done squat this year, and when one of his old announcers got him to wax nostalgic about the first major league team he won a world series with (with something like 47 at bats during the combined playoffs) would it really seem that out of character for him to say that that memory “gave him Goosebumps?” He was in his “heyday” then compared even to the world championship the won with the Giants when he only had 11 at bats.  I would feel more part of the Chicago team too.

Yesterday three hours of idle bull stuff was taken up by the fact that another air personality (certainly not the kind of shock jock that Howard Stern turned into a personal fortune) but another person who is paid according to his ratings got spanked for showing the same volatility (they call it passion now) that has kept his job for him for 40 years.  Tony Bruno made the mortal mistake of calling “The City”  “Frisco.”  That to me was far more egregious (tongue in cheek as a native San Franciscan) than a hot headed spewing of an un-intended racial epilate at one of the SF Giants Latin pitchers by referring to him as an “illegal alien.”  Had Tony not had 40 years to disprove any serious motivation behind this comment, it might have been taken more seriously.  Was it stupid, hell yes?  Do we create this by our supersaturation of air time and the American appetite for the crude or sensational, hell yes?  Is he basically screwed for life with the Latin community, I bet so.

Those who dare play on this field now are screwed.  (I think I’m getting sensational and worked up just thinking of the market and how volatile I need to be to be a player)!  You are damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.  Unless your daddy was Frank Buck, you just cannot be an announcer of any kind of sports event without an edge.  If you do, no matter how great you are (look at Mike Krukow and Duane Kueiper) you are branded a ‘homer.” If you are young and just breaking into the industry, you will be banished to announce the rest of your life for the Kansas City JayHawks.

What are we encouraging on the internet today?  Without any real kind of watchdog, anyone can publish anything.  The downside for someone who tweets one racial epitaph like Tony Bruno, is that once your words are out there is no taking them back.  Good God, how many professional athletes would be publicly defenestrated (were they not so “untouchable” within their own little “tip top” community) for some of the unthinkable things that come out of their heads.

The real downside for humanity is that any bile spewing hate monger can rant for ages with no accountability about the relative evils of the opposing party, the inefficiency of their administration, or the viability of their ethnic or national origin (like it should even freeking matter).  Racism on either side of the coin is still racism.  I get as tired of being called “Vanilla Pud’in” as some of my brothers get being called other things.

Marshall McLuhan was a prophet with his 1970’s book “The Medium is the Message.”  Well here we are in the information age with unlimited bandwidth for audience, creation, information, fabrication, misinformation, deception, and abuse.

The sheer amount of opportunity to spew is indeed a double edged sword.  Don’t do it and you aren’t considered edgy.  Do it and be damned careful to stay EXACTLY on the correct side of that edge, and watch out – its razor sharp!  As Gary Radnich said yesterday:  Were all just one sentence away from the unemployment line.”

 

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