Thursday, August 20, 2009

You Decide; We Report

TigerBlog isn't 100% sure what is meant by "the public option" or "the single payer system" as it relates to the health care bill, though he has a basic idea. It has something to do with having the government pay for health care expenses, rather than private insurance companies.

TB further believes that very few people actually know what those terms mean, even if they are willing to vehemently protest for or against them.

Then there is a question TB saw in a magazine story about how Americans often focus their attention on all the wrong issues. The question asked: Which disease has killed more Americans, the bird flu or mad cow disease? Think about it. What's your answer?

The answer, which TB actually suspected, is that neither disease has ever killed a single American. Still, think of all the times that you've heard about the bird flu and mad cow as big issues.

TigerBlog is a firm believer that many people (TB included) will hear small pieces of information about a subject from the media and then extrapolate from there as their own pre-existing beliefs dictate. These days, that's gone to whole different extreme, as it's not just that the public is getting the small piece of information but where it's getting it from.

Aside from "Wipeout," the best TV now is to switch back and forth from FoxNews and MSNBC at 9 p.m. and hear Sean Hannity and Rachel Maddow look at the exact same issue and formulate 180 degree opinions. They don't just disagree completely with each other; they also speak as if their opinion cannot possibly be questioned by any logical, thinking person.

The phrase "We Report; You Decide" is a great one, but it's actually reversed. It's more accurate these days to say the public decides what it wants to hear and then seeks out the reporting that will give that point of view.

Go to MSNBC and hear Rachel Maddow rip the protesters at health care rallies with the term "astroturf," which is supposed to mean something like "fake grass roots." Or, go to FoxNews and hear Sean Hannity rip the people ripping the people who are ripping the health care reform. Hear terms like "single payer system" or "public option" and instantly be for them or against them, without any kind of knowledge of what they would actually mean.

Okay, enough soapbox. The point is that this extends to every source of information that is out there now, even

TigerBlog remembers the time that men's basketball player Andre Logan was caught throwing a brick through a window. It was after the 2003 American League Championship Series Game 7, when Aaron Boone's home run beat the Red Sox for the Yankees. Andre, whom TigerBlog liked a lot (as an aside, Andre was from Poly Prep in Brooklyn, and former coach Bill Carmody once described him as "more Poly than Prep" to say he had some toughness to him), was either a Sox fan or Yanks' fan, and he threw the brick through the window to protest the other team's banner on the wall.

Was it the smartest move ever? No. When it came time for TigerBlog HQ to release a statement about the incident, the first thought was to say that Andre was being suspended for a game for "violation of team rules" or something generic like that. TigerBlog strongly disagreed, saying that it would only lead to speculation. The more facts put out, the less speculation there would be. And that's what happened, as the incident became known for the prank that it was, and nothing big was made of it.

Here at TigerBlog HQ, we have to deal with issues like that, or of athletes who are suspended from a team or decide to leave the team, far less frequently than we have to deal with the good stuff. Still, these issues come up. It's important that we be as forthcoming as possible (something not always able to be accomplished), because in this day and age, this is what would happen if we weren't:
1) athlete A does something silly or leaves a team
2) Princeton puts out a story saying athlete A has been suspended for a violation of team rules or has left the team
3) any number of message boards would immediately start to light up about lack of institutional control and how the coach should go and who is he/she recruiting anyway and on and on

Here at TigerBlog HQ, one of the best parts - perhaps the best part - of the way media has evolved is that we now have a much greater ability to "control the message," as they say. No longer do we simply rely on the Trenton Times or Trentonian to take what we say and interpret it.

Instead, we put out the information directly to those who seek it out. That gives us an obligation to be as forthcoming as possible, and that's an obligation we take seriously. At the same time, as TB has often stated, we have become the media.

Sometimes, maybe much of the time, the audience views what we say as "spin" or with a skeptical eye. Still, TB knows that we have never put anything that is untruthful, and we try not to shy away from negative issues when we're forced to comment on them. It's still up to the people who read it to decide what to make of the information we give them, but at least we know the information is coming straight from the source.

It's turned from what it started as, which was a novelty with unknown potential, into our little version of Wikipedia.

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