Monday, January 21, 2008

Dwyre pens a must-read column

If you read nothing else this week, read L.A. Times sports columnist Bill Dwyre's take on the controversy about a Golf Channel anchor's ill-advised comment about Tiger Woods and the firing of a Golfweek editor for putting a noose on the cover promoting the story inside.

Dwyre takes it beyond a single incident, seeing a parable of our times. Aside from tossing it aside as yet another rant at the machine, think about his larger meaning. An excerpt:

We blog before we report, when it should be the other way around.

We write more about ourselves than we do about our subjects. We have Facebook and YouTube, and we see the world as being all about us, on all topics, every day. News isn't news unless we agree with it.

We are afraid of quiet. Our children don't see the world around them in our minivans. They watch TV.

The editor of Golfweek who put the noose on the cover probably went home that night, thinking he had done what his bosses and the world around him kept telling him -- to think outside the box, be creative, groundbreaking, innovative.

There is a fine line between those things and stupidity, of course.

Our society has a massive appetite for drama, and little for reality. We read about Britney Spears when we need to read about Afghanistan. And the media, which has the mandate -- and the constitutional right -- to lead us from this abyss, are all too often not doing so. Media, which once led public opinion, now all too often follow it.
Then, when you are done, go over to Columbia Journalism Review and spend some time with Lawrence Lanahan's cover story, "Secrets of the City." Lanahan, in looking at this final season of "The Wire" and what it says about journalism, the myriad forces we are dealing with, and the Herculean task of trying to convey the reality that is the modern metropolis, does a good job of not turning the chasm between David Simon, creator of "The Wire," and his former employer, the Baltimore Sun, into a simplistic he said-they said or into an overblown morality play.

He explores the conflict in a way that helps sketch out and make you think about these broader journalistic forces and conflicts of vision and purpose.

If you don't read the article at least twice, you're not getting all of it.

(Unfortunately, like "The Sopranos," I'll have to wait till "The Wire" comes to A&E or a similar channel. Yeah, I'm cheap. I have a problem with paying $80 a month for cable, so I don't get the premium tier and don't get HBO, and I haven't been able to crib an invite to someone else's feed.)

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At 1/21/08, 9:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I haven't had the chance to fully read the linked article reviewing "The Wire" yet, but I still feel the need to express little sympathy for the editor that allowed the cover to go out like that...Having designed skyboxes and front pages, I know that sometimes people feel the need to throw some witty "wow" factor to snag a passerby's attention; this was just a case of shortsightedness. When working in a field where anyone with any belief system can see your work, you'd think that sometimes people would approach an idea from EVERY angle before passing it on to the printer...

At 1/21/08, 10:57 PM, Blogger Doug said...

Can't disagree with you there. I didn't think Dwyre was being particularly sympathetic, either, portraying him more as an unwitting sop to the latest buzzwords.

It's a good warning to never turn off the BS detector and to always ask what is absolutely the worst thing that could happen here.


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