Newhouse: As Out of Touch as Ever

I’m unsure how to feel about Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications (full disclosure: my grad school alma mater) recent foray into the realm of media awards.

 

According to Dean David Rubin on MediaBistro.com, the school’s newly created Mirror Awards will “highlight the best media coverage of media … The idea is to hold up a mirror to the media and honor it that way.”

 

Hey, that’s great. Coming from someone who is not, and financially cannot, make a living doing the very thing she begged, borrowed and practically stole to be able to do — journalism — thanks to the bullshit surrounding the biz, I’m all for it.

 

From media consolidation to rampant ethical violations run amok, there needs to be a mirror.

 

I’m just not sure Newhouse is the place to be handing out the accolades.

 

Or perhaps not Rubin, the man who gave the least compelling commencement speech I unfortunately was forced to witness.

 

Imagine if you will:

 

Students from one of the country’s preeminent journalism schools were thrust, trial by fire’like, into the fray in the months following Sept. 11.

 

The reality of the job, and its inherent risks and responsibilities, became crystal clear that day, and every day for the rest of the semester. The reality of what happened, and the enormous task for those charged with putting it down for everyone to understand, sank in the second we watched the first tower go. None of us would ever be the same.

 

There was no escaping it, no getting back to life — we were in j-school, where current events are life. We saw the world, and the field we had yet to break into, change before our eyes. The future was tumultuous and uncertain, but we were there, learning to be a part of it.

 

With this as our educational backdrop, we sat in mid-2002 in the Carrier Dome clad in those ridiculous square hats, ready to take on the world.

 

So what words of infinite wisdom did Rubin choose to impart to us on that beautiful spring day?

 

None. His words were not for us but our parents, asking them not to be too upset about the thousands of dollars they’d shelled out for their progeny’s education, because it’s a good school with a good name and it will all work out in the end.

 

Really. No seriously. I’m not kidding…

 

Thousands of dollars, countless hours of lost sleep, two bouts of bronchitis, weeks of lectures, Kaplan’s sadistic law class and Ward’s meandering ethics class, several thousand cups of coffee and just as many AP Style Book quizzes later I found myself sitting, dumbstruck, wondering what fucking relevance this had to me. And then I realized: none.

 

With his eye on the checkbook and completely out of touch with the lives lived just under his carpeted office day in and day out, he — like media companies of today — pandered to the bottom line.

 

And Rube’s at it again, proving just how outrageously out of touch he is with the very industry he gets paid to, purportedly, understand:

 

mediabistro.com : What types of media do you consume daily?

 

Rubin : The New York Times, in print, The Wall Street Journal, in print and online, Syracuse Post Standard, NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered. If I get home in time I’ll watch the CBS evening news — I’m warming up for Katie. Then later I watch MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann — he’s the best writer in broadcasting, very, very entertaining.

 

mediabistro.com : What about blogs?

 

Rubin : No. People will send me things and point me to them, but I just don’t have enough time.

 

mediabistro.com : So no RSS feeds for you?

 

Rubin : No.

Well goody then. At least I don’t have to worry about sending the dean’s office into a tizzy. And, uh, Katie fucking Couric? I can’t wait to see her take on the hard news of the day. “Massacre in Darfur, he he, Israel and Hezbollah still killling, tee he!”

 

Unfortunately, his reading list sums it up: old dinosaur media equivalent of a bran muffin and black coffee.

 

Yes, it’s important to keep up on what these pubs are doing and saying, but if you’re not looking beyond the Gray Lady and NPRs of the world at this point in the game, even just a little, you’ve already been left behind.

 

So, I’d nominate myself for a Mirror Award if it included criticism of the media peon making machine.

 

Alas, I can only look in from the outside as I slave on the dark side to make ends meet and pay the student loans Rubin was trying so hard to convince the parents were so important, and playing under the old guard’s nose via RSS feed.

How I’m Weird

Okay, I’ve been tagged by Mags at You Forgot Poland!, so I’d better get on with it … I’ve been slacking enough already!

 

So, I’m supposed to, in five answers, list how I’m weird. Lordy, where do I begin?!

 

  1. I know all the words to the Eagles song (fly, eagles, fly, on the road to victoreeeeeeeeee!!!… you get the idea…), but know next to nothing about football, despite the fact that I was a cheerleader for over a decade and the captain in high school, no less!
  2. Even though I was a cheerleader in high school, I wear black every day. Not because I’m depressed, but because I’m messy, and drop things on myself – from coffee to candy – on a regular basis. Plus, I went to Catholic school, and have no fashion sense.
  3. I must buy magazines from the back of the rack, and only if I’m convinced the pages haven’t been ruffled by browsers.
  4. I sleep with a pink stuffed pig named Gordy. I even take him camping. And on business trips. It’s pathetic, I know…
  5. I can cook elaborate cakes and pies and pastries, along with just about any dish I put my mind to, but I cannot boil an egg without blowing it up.

Near Death By Derby

Death By Derby

I almost made it, folks, I almost got to hit the rink, hit my friends
and say yes, indeed, I am a roller derby queen. Unfortunately, the
fates have other plans for me and more than likely you’ll find me
manning the ticket booth.

It’s true.

Last Thursday, on what has become a routine flogging, trouncing and
ass-flashing head first dive to the floor, I managed to split my elbow
open to the bone.

Ew. I know.

Only I didn’t know it when I did it, but an hour later, as I pulled my
elbow pad off and flashed my funny bone to the team, no one was
laughing. Immediate gasps, shrieks and calls of, “Oh mah gawd get some
stitches, girl!” filled the room.

Unfortunately, medical care more advanced than a splash of Betadine is
foreign to me, and as I crawled into bed a few hours later I had no
idea what kind of festering adventure would be awaiting me on the
other side of dawn.

By the time I’d finished throwing up the next morning as I stared,
bleary eyed, at the pink tinged surface of my elbow bone, I wasn’t
sure what to do next.

Thanks to my mother’s occupation as a nurse, I know how to clean and
bandage the mess with near-bizarre precision. Unfortunately, I’ve
always suspected my mother’s career was a hindrance later in life as
it removed any sense of concern or urgency in relation to pain. Many
of my closest friends have found this out the hard way:

Moving into a stereotypically hilly apartment in San Francisco a few
years back, my friend Kelly smashed her hand while leaping,
maniacally, into my precariously balanced U-Haul van. Rushing out of
the apartment, mindful of the 3-hour window the rental place had given
us to move all my crap across town (SF may not be wide, but it makes
it up in hills), I stopped, looked at her limp, pale limb and asked,
as the tears of pain rolled down her face, “Can you move it?”

“Yes.”

“You’re fine. Let’s go!”

If it can be moved it cannot be that bad, and therefore it’s good
enough to go back outside and play, damnit, and leave me alone….

And with the move test as my litmus I slunk into the doctor’s office
the next afternoon, where it became obvious that freedom of motion is
not the only way to gauge the severity of a wound.

Potential for amputation is.

And as I sat, shaking, wondering how on earth I’d ever floss my teeth
again with only one arm, I started to think of all the other things
going on in my life I’d been missing since roller derby took over my
life.

And I decided that the injury, while probably not fatal and likely
(hopefully – I have to go back tomorrow at 7:30 a.m.) not to result in
anything more than a nasty scar, was a sort of wake-up call to
remember that I’ve got a lot of great things in my life in addition to
my beloved fellow derby girls.

Like writing, drawing, and general art-making.

And my friends, and my family, and someone who falls somewhere, I’m
not sure where, in between.

Not to mention the job, no matter how square, and apartment, and, one
day maybe, a dog.

And, well, hey, most of all, let’s all give a big round of applause
for: my arm.

As the drummer from Def Leppard can attest, two is better than one…