Going about my daily Twitter rounds, I noticed the Twitter algorithm decided I should be following the FCC’s account. Being the media geek that I am, I happily clicked on the link, curious as to what the Federal Communications Commission would be tweeting about. Surely it is engaging regularly with the companies it is charged with regulating, or better yet the media consumers it is charged with having their best interests in mind in its rulings. Right?
That link goes to who the FCC is following. Care to take a guess? You’d assume that it would be following companies such as Comcast, NBC, CBS, Time Warner, Clear Channel; you know. MEDIA COMPANIES. In case you didn’t want to click on that link earlier, here’s a quick look at who (or what to be more precise) the Federal COMMUNICATIONS Commission is following:
I’ll buy that the FCC needs to follow at least SOME of these accounts. The White House, Senate, House, Open Government Iniative. What I can’t buy is the FCC not interacting with anyone, or paying attention to the industry it is charged with regulating. Did I mention that picture above is the entire list of who the FCC follows?
Obviously, we shouldn’t be surprised that a government entity is a bit out of touch with what it’s supposed to be doing. So, ending my soapbox rant, I’d like to offer the FCC some free advice (which I’m sure will be taken to the highest levels of the organization):
- Follow more relevant accounts. In addition to the above media companies, follow accounts of those covering the media business world. That includes journalists, bloggers, PR people, entrepreneurs; anyone with a stake in the industry. Especially those that are WORKING in the industry. Full disclosure. I used to work at a radio station owned by Cumulus. I was let go on February 6, 2009. Mere days later, Lew Dickey was rewarded with a $500,000 bonus. I am still somewhat bitter over my exit from the radio industry.
- Interact with more people. At the time of this writing, the first @ reply to someone that is outside the organization (disallowing RT’s of other government agencies), happened on March 16th. That’s a long time ago in Twitterville. This is not a broadcast medium. You HAVE to engage with people for Twitter to have any value to your organization. That includes Dan’s Dog Emporium and the FCC. Besides, how can the FCC know what’s best for American citizens if it isn’t TALKING TO THEM?
- Explain. Many of the FCC regulations and rulings are written in legalese. I understand why and have no problem with that being the case. Use Twitter to explain to the rest of us that don’t speak legalese what’s happening so we can form an opinion of some sort and then engage with you about what’s happening.
My thanks to Mike for taking time out of his weekend to write-up a recap of the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. I watched the event on TV, but wanted to know what it was like on the ground in DC.
It was a Clusterf*** of Fear and/or Sanity.
Hundreds of thousands of people travelled from around the nation (and maybe beyond) to descend upon the National Mall this weekend to witness the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear.
Here are my reactions:
Reaction #1 – Transportation
As a native Washingtonian, I know rallies, protests and celebrations. I’ve been to inaugurations, marches, parades, races and festivals along all corners of the nation’s capital, covering the full spectrum of topics. However, none of these events have EVER clogged the public transportation system like this. The out-of-towners were smart and came into DC VERY early Saturday morning. My first report from a friend on the Mall came nearly 4 hours before the event started.
Us locals, however, took our sweet time getting down there, which was our downfall. By the time my friends and I headed down, the Metro was basically of no use and buses weren’t even stopping to pick up people, since there was no room. So we walked. And walked. And then walked some more. But the vibe was joyous and light…it was an adventure!
Reaction #2 – The Mall
The streets headed to the Mall made us feel like sardines in a can. Thousands of people crammed into mini-mobs, collectively looking to get closer to the rally. Again, though, everyone was so darn happy, we didn’t mind being squished, at least for a while.
It was plain to see that the crowd shattered what the organizers had prepared for. People climbed on top of trees, streetlights and, disgustingly, port-a-pots. The video and sound systems were no match for the crowd (with some estimates putting it near 300,000).
Reaction #3 – The People
I’ve seen reports that say the rally attendees were young and white.
In a word: hogwash.
I saw every age, from infant to elderly, and every race and religion on the planet very well represented. As mentioned above, some estimates, placed the attendance at 300,000. I didn’t count each person, but my thinking was well over 100,000. It was a stunning turnout for the event (see #5).
People came in costumes of all types. My favorite was someone dressed as “The Bill” from School House Rock.
People came carrying signs. These ranged from poignant to absurd. One sign proclaimed the holder’s fear of his recent double-cancer diagnosis amid the healthcare crisis. Another said a kitten dies every time a certain former Alaskan governor Tweets. The sign of the day (non-political), to me, was one that asked “What Would Jesus Do?” with a photo of Jesus, the purple-jumpsuit-wearing bowler in “The Big Lebowski.” For obvious reasons, my favorite politically-oriented sign will NOT be included here.
Reaction #4 – The Rally
Well, we could barely see or hear anything, so after about an hour of trying to get a better view and enjoying The Roots, we walked back up 7th Street to a tapas bar, ordered some sangria pitchers and watched the rest of the event on TV.
I recorded the event on Comedy Central and will watch it soon, but, that gets me to…
[Note: Upon watching the rally start to finish, it was a mix of funny, corny, entertaining, strange content. The highlight was clearly Yusuf and Ozzy Osbourne, with Jon Stewart’s event-closing monologue coming in a close second and Kid Rock at #3.]
Reaction #5 – Overall
This is a strange event to evaluate. Was it a PR stunt or a political movement? A liberal gathering or a variety show?
Maybe it was something in the middle. A marketing event that electrified and captivated. A leftist shout-out with moderate content. A plea to vote, no matter who you cast your ballot for. A Halloween weekend jamboree for an excuse to put on a costume a day early. A sermon preached to the choir. An inside joke the audience was totally in on. A fun day with friends. A touchstone pop-culture event, blending truth and comedy, celebrities and politics. A platform to recognize good people without shouting and bickering and name-calling.
Maybe each person turned it into what they wanted it to be.
And that sounds just fine to me.
Which is better? To know the information you are getting is completely unbiased, or to know about the biases the information contains, and how it was obtained, when you receive it.
That’s the discussion I had with Micheal Foley and a few others during Monday’s #journchat. For the purposes of our discussion and this blog post, we’re discussing news reporting.
I’m of the mindset that in Utopialand, all news reporting would be completely objective and unbiased. Realizing that we don’t live there, I still believe being as objective as possible is the best route to go.
Michael is of the opposite opinion. He’d rather know EVERYTHING about that report. How the information was obtained, the history of the reporter and interview subject, not to mention the opinion of the editor or director that originally thought of the story. He argues that only with every single piece of relevant information about the story, its subjects, and its writers, can you truly get the full picture.
I don’t feel that way. I think if you are (trying) to be objective, you’ll end up being transparent. Being objective in a situation that you have an opinion about is maybe the most difficult thing a journalist can do. If they can do it well, and I (perhaps naively) believe there are reporters out there who want to be objective. Being objective means all of the relevant information is presented in an unflinching light. The good, the bad, the ugly are all present in the story.
No matter what the personal opinions of the reporter or subjects of the story, or editors or news directors, if all the information is reported in the story, and no details that could slant the story one way or the other are left out, you’re being truly objective…and transparent at the same time.
So maybe the lesson in all of this is in the end, if you’re being truly objective, you’re being truly transparent.
Let me have it in the comments.
EDIT NOTE: I spelled Micheal’s name incorrectly earlier. I’ve now corrected it. May my mistake live on in infamy.