Friday, June 04, 2010

We get mail - from US reporters wanting our opinions on other US reporters!

From: "Jacobon, Terry" [name changed]
Sent: Thu, June 3, 2010 3:56:46 PM
Subject: From Terry Jacobson [name changed] of the [MAJOR ESTABLISHED US NEWSPAPER]

Dear Scott in Montreal:

Hi. I’m a reporter for the [MAJOR ESTABLISHED US NEWSPAPER], and I’m writing under deadline about the media coverage of the BP oil spill.

I was intrigued by your comments on the Daily Kos about Anderson Cooper. He’s working hard and producing dramatic spots.

May I have a comment from you, for inclusion in my piece, about exactly *what* you think Anderson is doing right? What is he telling the world that others aren’t?

To include your quote, I’ll need your real name, and I assume your hometown is Montreal.

And I like Canada. I don’t think your government is sorry-ass. At least not always. Mine, well . . .

Terry Jacobson
Media Editor/Writer

Re: From Terry Jacobson [name changed] of the [MAJOR ESTABLISHED US NEWSPAPER]
From: Randboro
To: "Jacobon, Terry" [name changed]

Sorry to get back to you so late. I am not typically an avid consumer of US media, although I have plenty of access to it. I usually focus on issues in my own country, plus (as a die-hard Habs fan) hating the Flyers, of course!

I cross-posted the dailykos diary to my own blog, btw, at My name is Scott Murray and yes, I do live in Montreal. Quote me at will, if that helps you.

The thing Anderson did right yesterday was he communicated effectively to his audience, and took them by the hand so even a Tea Party stalwart could understand that in the case of BP, something is rotten in the state of Denmark. Given that the medium is the message, an iconic telejournalist like Cooper is a medium unto himself, so when he came down from the mountain to discover corporations are selfish and heartless, that in itself is a powerful message, regardless of the numerous ways in which his basic reporting habits are wanting.

What Cooper did a good job of, was he dismantled the cone of silence (to some degree, at least) that BP is attempting to place on the media. That he got some workers to voice their concerns despite BP's attempts to stifle all comment was probably the most impressive part for me. He could easily have taken it a bit further, and called out BP for not supplying full protection from the fumes for all clean-up workers - like the people they showed in the stock video cleaning up the Exxon Valdez disaster.

Watching again tonight, I found myself wondering why he doesn't get an expert in mechanical engineering / physics / fluid mechanics on the program, instead of lamely shrugging and saying he isn't qualified to judge what they are actually looking at from the live feed. C'mon, you're CNN, get some experts to weigh in! That's Writing and Reporting 101 stuff (with his staff and budget, only his ego could possibly be getting in the way of doing this, no?)

Plus, while those three oil-basted birds make great symbols of the carnage, I can't help thinking that an oceanographer would be a big help in explaining the long-term consequences to the food chain. That, to me, is the biggest long-term scary-scary outcome of all this; and it demands serious consideration by the media on the whole. Maybe Cooper and his producers are pacing themselves, and first dealing with the current #1 priority of their viewers, but who knows? I fear that long-term, the massive shock to oceanic biodiversity will be the legacy of this disaster, more than just the loss of fishermen's livelihoods. Like Vonnegut's Ice-9.

You should read up on the 1990s' collapse of the Newfoundland cod fisheries to get a bead on what Louisiana and other Gulf states may have to look forward to, economically. In that case, it was government mismanagement that took the brunt of the blame (and here I thought it was the insatiable worldwide demand for McDonald's Filet-o-Fish sandwiches).

I like the [MAJOR ESTABLISHED US NEWSPAPER]. Great legacy. Best of luck to you.


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