Steve Waldman, who has written a really interesting book about the formation of AmeriCorps, writes an interesting article in Slate today about the religion gap - more specifically about Kerry's religion quandry. When I saw the article this morning, I told Nicole that "Waldman wrote my article." I've been thinking a lot lately about the "religion gap" in the election, but the urban church is a huge fishbone stuck in throat of that idea. This article touches on it a bit.
The religion gap, as defined by USA Today is tied more to periodicity of service attendance - the more you attend, the more conservative you vote. In the Slate article, Waldman rightly points out that such a measure, though many want it to, does not relegate wacky zealots or level-headed faithful to one side of the aisle.
Oh, but how we do grasp and grasp for ways to force a brother to take sides. Don't get me wrong, taking sides is an important art, but why does it always seem that the lines drawn in the national sand are always running the wrong direction.
The President's campaign is also in the news today with regards religion. Not a very clever move on the campaign's part.
I was away for the last two weeks getting married out in Ojai, California. If you've never been there, I would recommend packing your bags and getting a jetBlue flight out there right away.
When I stepped back into the office the other day in NYC, the newsroom was all ablaze with anticipation of Michael Moore's new film. I haven't yet seen the flick, but I'm starting to really look forward to it.
A lot of folks are calling it the Passion of the left. That's really interesting. We'll have to do an entry in the near future about the two movies, the passions they represent, and whether or not a majority of Americans can be put into one camp or the other.
When I was a sophomore in high school my older sister and I rode the bus together to school. Our bus stop was about 100 yards up the street (Arnsby Road). I don't remember much of my high school days, especially the freshman and sophomore parts, but I do remember that bus stop. I remember once that Beth's hair was wet and it was so cold outside that it froze and we tried to break pieces of it while standing at that bus stop.
What I remember most though is getting ready for the bus. Beth and I had rooms next to each other in the basement and she would turn on NPR every morning. She used to say that if the NPR guy went off and the local sports guy came on we were going to be late for the bus.
That NPR guy was Bob Edwards and Friday was his last day as the anchor of that morning show - Morning Edition. Even though Beth was the only one who knew what he was talking about in the mornings, I grew to love that guy's voice. Many years later, when I actually began to understand some of what he was saying, I started to understand why she listened every morning. Morning Edition is almost like an audio cup of coffee. Probably not 100% healthy but it is really nice on the senses.
Since I've moved to NYC I began an every-once-a-while habit of waking up and bringin up WOSU, the station we used to listen to in Columbus, and listening in to the mix of Bob, the Morning addition folks and the local Columbus news. That's what I was doing Friday morning when Bob Edwards signed off for the last time.
One reason I enjoy reading blogs is that you can see a dissenting opinion, in all it's splendor, right up there with the original author's opinion. That's the beauty of the two way publishing thing.
What's even more interesting is the way that bloggers who follow current event are beginning to show up the relative ivory towers that are major news networks. Working in a big news room myself, I see the way that a major news story can get handed around from paper to paper and airwave to airwave and become a major phenomena. It can be a real mess.
Take two recent examples. Howard Dean screams in Iowa after an empassioned speech. What's the big deal? Nothing until CNN plays it 600 times in four days and then every major paper must keep up with the coverage. And how about the more recent Bush 9/11 campaign ads. There were three days of gangbuster, front-page coverage on the main news outlets about the rage of the victim's families. Turns out they were talking about 6 families while more than a dozen had come out in support of the ads.
This kind of stuff really shapes public opinion. Yet it's missing any sort of peer review or any other vetting process outside the ethos of a particular newsroom.
It's a lot different with blogs. Somebody writes a story or a bit of coverage and anyone can comment in real time. The author can see the feedback right away. It's a vulnerability and accountability which makes it more likely that folks will end up with a better shaped look at the world. Sort of keeps one's personal opinions in check.
PEW for People and the Press released some survey results last month saying that folks are trending away from the major networks to get their news. Could be interesting if we (non-professional journalists) become the news anchors of tomorrow.
So I tuned into the ultra-mega super exclusive Diane Sawyer interview with Mel Gibson the other night. If you didn't see it, well let me tell you, it was a strange affair. Maybe it's only strange to me because I don't watch Sawyer and I wasn't used to that face she can make for extended periods of time. The face says, you're a liar and the whole world knows it and I'm so clevah that I'm making this face - boo. Or maybe it's because I've never watched Gibson try to sit still for an hour. That didn't work so well either.
But the thing that really made me go hmmmm, was when Sawyer started to grill Gibson about a series of articles written by NY Times columnist Frank Rich.
So Rich had written these articles (three of them I think) say anti-semite this and publicity stunt that and whatever. But my mind drifted back to a post that I wrote a week or so ago and Sawyer and Gibson started sounding fuzzy and I was thinking about Frank Rich.
Rich had written an article in the Times about the current state of marriage in America. Marriage ala media was making him sick and Diane Sawyer received his ire for how she had conducted a few interviews with leading couples. So we have Frank Rich, a New York Times columnist, writing about marriage.
And then I shook the cobwebs out of my head in time to see Diane Sawyer, now talking about evangelicals. And she had some b-roll going and I was thinking - wait, those don't look like the evangelicas I grew up around in Ohio. I wonder where they got that footage? And I wonder why they thought that evangelicals look like that?
So then I thought, there are a lot of people watching this and there are a lot of people reading Frank Rich. And from where I sat in NYC, I would take their words on marriage in America, goodness knows there's nothing much to contradict that around where I live and work. And I would now know what an evangelical looked like, because I don't know any from where I live or work.
But then I remembered that when I lived in Columbus, and Chicago and Indianapolis I did know a lot of evangelicals and a lot of married people. But I never made the connection because that's not who Rich and Sawyer were talking about. Those were normal people. People who went to work and did grocery shopping and normal things. Rich and co. were talking about Britney Spears and American Bachelor (or whatever) and all these freaky things. And the pictures of their evangelical were freaky and everything was not to be trusted and they knew all of this because . . .
That's were the mental train stopped. How the hell did they know?
Then I thought about all of the stuff that people say on TV and in print and they think they know and really they've never even seen what they are talking about, let alone lived it. Sure they've lived their lives, but they haven't lived the lives of others. And that is pretty offensive. To be telling an entire country that may not have experienced something before that "hey, I know what I'm talking about here." That's really frustrating.
I suppose that's an argument for people to get their news from locals. Word of mouth is just better for some things. The idea of a national professional journalist is pretty silly when you think about it. Especially if there are only a handful. That's downright crazy. Especially if they want to talk about places and people they've only ever flown over.
I came across and interesting site today while I was tracing down a story I saw on Wonkette. The story was about the reaction of a Washington Post journalist to a blogger/UC Berkley Professor/former Clinton advisor who had criticised a story that appeared in the post.
The site is called the Blogging of the President and it is looking at how America is reflected in the way it chooses its commander in chief. Interesting stuff. But I was there chasing down this story which looks at the Wash Post incident as an indicator of the tension between the old guard media outlets and the new. Check it out won't ya?