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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Rolling Stone Magazine- New Media's BFF

  Newspaper readership and viewership of mainstream news continues to plummet. Many will tell you it is because of the 24-hour news cycle and the fact that more and more people, especially young people get their news and information from the Internet. But could it be more than that? Could it be that more than ever, mainstream media makes themselves part of the story? Could it be what appears to be a lack of research, the already formulated narrative of any given story, or the complete and transparent bias shown by most mainstream media journalists? Rolling Stone Magazine may be best equipped to answer those questions.
  A recent article in Rolling Stone chronicled the story of "Jackie". Jackie claimed to have been gang raped by several men at a fraternity party at the University of Virginia. The story was very graphic and detailed. The incident took place in 2012, when Jackie said she was attending a party at a fraternity house with someone named "Drew". She says she was lured into a darkened room and raped by by five men. She later claimed it was seven men. Understandably, Jackie's life has not been the same since. She has been traumatized by this incident. When the story came to light however, a lot of questions began to surface, not just about Jackie's actual story, but the reporter behind the story, and her less than conventional way of writing it.
  So many young idealists enter into Journalism School each year with the goal of "changing the world", or something equally cheesy. That is a lofty goal, but it is not your job as a journalist. Contrary to what today's J-school students believe, it is not exactly rocket science to just report the facts of who, what, when, how, and why, which is your job.
  The author of the Rolling Stone piece, Sabrina Rubin Erdely failed to do quite a lot of those things in her piece. She obviously developed a great rapport with her subject, granted, very important. But she left a few things out, like the entire other side of the story. Erdely claims at Jackie's request, that she not contact the men accused of this crime. Even citizen journalists know that is an absolute game changer. What reporter worth their salt does not get both sides of the story or make such an agreement? Apparently, Erdely did not find this necessary. So now, you have a very gripping tale, but when do the accused get to tell their side?
  Other parts of the story began to unravel as well. As stated earlier, the number of assailants changed from five to seven. The fraternity in question said that no party or function was held on that weekend. Jackie also claimed that her date for the evening, "Drew", worked as a lifeguard at the campus pool and aquatic center. The fraternity's records indicate that none of their members held such a job. Even some of Jackie's close friends began to question her version of the evening's events.
  One might ask, where is
justice for Jackie? If this assault did indeed occur, will these men be held accountable? The sad truth is, more than likely not. There is certainly no forensic or DNA evidence left, Drew remains a mysterious character, if that is even his real name, and Jackie did not know the names of any of the other men involved.
  But there are other parts of the story looming. The first one being the perpetuating of the stereotype of the drunken horny frat guy. They are on every college campus in America for sure. But as with most stereotypes, it is a small percentage, and does not represent the majority. Then there is the much bigger question of shoddy reporting, and preconceived narratives. It is stories and journalists like this that are prompting more and more people to turn to alternate and new media sources. The moniker of Citizen Journalist is still no doubt mocked and snickered at in all of the Left Wing media circles. The advent of websites like Matt Drudge, The Blaze, and Breitbart are comedic fodder at all of the proper Manhattan cocktail parties that appear to be mandatory gatherings for media/political types. What happens though, when the mainstream media is totally preoccupied with their own sense of arrogance and grandeur, that all of a sudden they find that no one is watching anymore? That no one cares what they have to say before they even say it because, well, it will just be so predictable? That they have been replaced by the New Media? The one without an agenda?
  Sadly, there are more "journalists" out there like Sabrina Rubin Erdely, all ready to emerge from Journalism School to "change the world".
  It might just be that New media is already beating them to it.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Days of Infamy

  Seventy-three years ago to the day, on a lazy Sunday morning in December, America was jolted awake by one of the most horrific attacks in its history. Naval and Air forces of the Empire of Japan destroyed the U.S. Military Base at Pearl Harbor Hawaii. The intensity and brutality of the attack prompted many young men to immediately enlist in the military to defend America. Today, senior citizens in their 80's and 90's can tell you where they were and what they were doing on that morning. President Franklin Roosevelt would describe it as "a day which will live in infamy".
  Twenty-two years later, on an autumn day in November, a young, popular, vibrant President John F. Kennedy was assassinated as he rode in a car through downtown Dallas Texas. It was not the first time in American history that a president was assassinated, but it was the first time that Americans heard and saw first-hand accounts on television. Once again, ask anyone, even those in elementary school at the time, where they were when they heard the news.
  In 2001, on a beautiful sunny September morning, Americans watched in horror as two planes dove into the World Trade Center in New York City, another into the Pentagon in Washington D.C., and still another into the fields of the Pennsylvania countryside.
  America has endured many days of infamy. For the generations who are unfortunate enough to have one, often it defines who they are. Sometimes it defines what happens following that day. For those whose day will forever be December 7, 1941, it was a jolt out of a crippling depression. It sounds odd, but suddenly there were much bigger things to deal with than a job, a meal, or a place to stay. There would be none of those things if there was no America. She had to be defended at all costs. So the greatest generation went to work to defend her.
  After the death of John Kennedy, many say that America lost her innocence. Soon after, things like hippies, drugs, and violence in American cities began. Other assassinations followed, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King. America was turned upside down in what seemed like every aspect of life. Did people wonder if it was ever going to end?
  On September 12, 2001, on what was the saddest day in recent American history, might also have been the day that united Americans the most in recent history. Yes, there was Congress on the steps of the White House singing "God Bless America", but it went so much deeper than that. Flags were flown on almost every single house. Some people even attached flags to their cars. For a brief moment, there were no white or black Americans, no Mexican, Chinese or Asian Americans, just Americans. We had all been attacked and we would, as a people, answer those attacks. We would survive, yet again, a day which would live in infamy.
  Today, we remember that first day of infamy, December 7, 1941, and the men and women of that greatest generation who gave the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nation. There are those that say we are living in days of infamy right now. Will we allow those days to define us, or the day after?