Category Archives: Media

Meanwhile, in our universe …

Screen shot 2014-09-16 at 7.07.36 PMWe Americans have such tunnel vision when it comes to measuring things only by our standards.

Case in point. When it was announced that uninjured passengers involved in the Italian cruise ship disaster would be getting a payment of $14,460 plus ticket refunds, several TV news talking heads said dismissively that they couldn’t understand how such an “odd” number had been determined.

Well, that’s because they were using U.S. dollars, whereas the cruise line had announced an 11,000 Euro payment, a nice round figure.

See, we’re really not the center of the universe.


A leap of faith

Why is it that any supposedly “planned” end zone celebration draws a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct in the National Football League — except the Lambeau Leap?

The self-indulgent end zone dances, contortions and mini-celebrations are excused by the officials, but anything that looks as if it has been rehearsed or otherwise planned draws a flag. However, when any member of the Green Bay Packers scores and then leaps into the stands to be adored by the fans and have his image captured by the ever-present cameras he is given a pass. And, this is true no matter which officiating crew is on duty.

Given the fact this has been a planned, and oft-repeated, celebration for years, it is not even debatable whether it is spontaneous. Perhaps the fact that the activity is such a darling of the TV media that supports the NFL buys it a pass.

Image is everything

When local TV stations began superimposing “breaking weather” conditions on our screens some years ago, it was a novelty and mildly interesting. But, as the practice escalated, those same screens began showing the programs of interest in smaller and smaller format as the weather interference grew in scope and frequency.

At our house we hate when that happens. We didn’t pay a gazillion bucks for a big-screen TV only to have self-indulgent local weatherbeings gobble up the space in their mad dash to justify all the money they put into equipment — those gadgets that don’t make them any more reliable than when our Aunt Minnie predicts rain because her corns hurt.

Remember the days when it just rained? Or thundered? Or gently snowed?

Not anymore. Now we are inundated with TV-beings intruding into our leisure hours by labeling anything other than balmy, clear weather as impending doom. Which, after all, shouldn’t be a surprise. They’re fulfilling their own prophecies, made when they gave their weather shows such labels as “Storm Tracker,” “First Warning” and “We’re About To Die.”

As soon as even a hint of anything other than sunshine or moonbeams is suspected, the urgent scrolls appear on our TV screens, shrinking the football game or the the action movie that needs as much screen space as possible to be successful. Then the messages are accompanied by maps, lightning bolts or clouds spewing rain, sometimes also accompanied by graphic strips that offer no information but serve only to further shrink the image.

It is obvious that the competition that is weather “forecasting” on TV has become a self-fulfilling necessity. Most newscasts give us weather capsules at the begining of the show, then a longer bunch of guesswork midway through, then another capsule at the end. Most days, there is a lot more going on in the world than the “threat” of a few raindrops or snowflakes. But, you’d never know it if TV remains your main source of information. There, image is everything.

The sun will go out tomorrow …

… Well, technically on June 13. That’s the last scheduled day for the “Little Orphan Annie” comic strip.

The generation that doesn’t read newspapers won’t notice becoming the first generation not to see Annie and her entourage in print, but the Harold Gray creation has become an American icon since he introduced the first strip all those years ago.

Annie has spawned everything from merchandise to comic books to a Broadway show and movie simply titled “Annie” to a sexual parody, “Little Annie Fanny,” in Playboy magazine.

The curly-haired orphan with the pupil-less eyeballs and her dog, Sandy, and her fabulously wealthy guardian, Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks, romped through adventure after adventure during the Great Depression, World War II, all the wars since then, endured 15 presidential administrations, a few kidnappings, and even some domestic industrial espionage plots. If Annie seemed to be perpetually youthful for a now-86-year-old woman, chalk it up the fact she was born on February 29, a Leap Year day, and so only marked a birthday every four years.

As with so many comic strips, Annie has run her course. She once was published in hundreds of newspapers, but now is in fewer than two dozen. However, hope springs eternal. The final Sunday panel will end with a cliffhanger.

Canadian press gag? Sorry aboot that

Answer: “A clean United States.” “Like us, but polite.”

Question: What are two ways Canada often is described.

Another way I wish I could describe it, but can’t, is “Having freedom of the press.”

Anyone who thinks our neighbors live in a society almost identical to ours — except for the socialized medicine and the French-speaking thing — needs to think again. Canada is a place where the federal government can issue a sweeping ban on what its media can and cannot report.

The topic pops up from time to time, usually in matters deemed national security or in attempts to protect the rights of accused groups. However, the latest instance is a court-ordered prohibition on reporting on the murder of eight-year-old Victoria Stafford (above). The press is following the order, but not quietly, luckily for fans of press freedom. Some front-page editorials have been lambasting the gag order.

Iain MacKinnon, a lawyer for several media organizations covering the case, said, “It’s unusual in its scope and how broad it is and how much it covers.”

The girl disappeared 13 months ago after leaving her school in Woodstock, Ontario. Her remains were found three months later. One of the suspects charged in her death was scheduled to appear in court last Friday facing a first-degree murder charge. The ban issued by Judge Dougald McDermid prevents all media from saying anything else about the proceedings.

One newspaper had a front-page editorial had  blacked-out sections where details of what happened in court on Friday would have been written.

To add to the heavy-handed judicial ruling, even publishing the reason the ban is being imposed is not allowed to be published.