White people awkwardly hugging black secretaries.
Charlie Pierce weaves a central theme on the story of a woman who’s suing the former employer who fired her after the former donated a kidney to the latter and an African couple wrongly arrested after the people in the neighborhood they’d bought a house in thought they were breaking into it.
From this lengthy but worth reading NYT piece on the Martin case. As Ta-Nehisi Coates noted, it’s amazing how much at ease Frank Taaffe is with casual racism, but that would not make him the first nor the last. It is why I remember my mother telling me I was lucky to have my father’s complexion when I would complain about not looking more like her.
Situations like these remind you that it’s not even been 50 years since black folks became full people in the eyes of the law (the Voting Rights Act), never mind the unspoken and de facto discrimination that still goes on.
Charles P. Pierce.
Juan Cole reiterates the obvious.
One of my big things about Poynter is that their folks seem to have spent so much time teaching journalism and media ethics that it’s been too long since they practiced it — and this bit in its latest column for ESPN.com on the Jeremy Lin headline incident proves it.
Never mind that ESPN traffics in cliché in general — please see all those anchor catchphrases we knew and loved from Patrick, Olbermann, Levy, Steiner, Mayne, Kilborn, Eisen among others (and in Berman’s case, loathed) — but obviously the Poynter folks have not sat in on a television news consultant meeting or a writers’ workshop (one usually led by management) in a long, long time.
The first thing consultants and many managers will drill out of a writer is interesting vocabulary because we are writing for people who are not our peers and thus do not traffic in our vocabulary and/or references. This is actually useful advice: it helps the writer to write like someone would speak, but the flip side is that new and interesting turns of phrase are actively discouraged while cliché is disdained at the same time. (I have received a list of suggested “phrases to avoid” or outright banned terms at every place I’ve worked at, and at past stations, I’ve even been told I’m writing for children.)
This leads to mordant jokes about trying to work in words with more the four syllables. (One of my co-workers and I had one of them yesterday: I joked about using “audacious” while he wanted to use “cavalcade.”) In essence, you go back on tired phrases and writing two sentences when one is perfectly fine because you don’t want to lose the viewer. So on a deadline when time is tight, you’re going to churn out the first phrase you can — and the temptation is even worse on the graveyard shift. (This is not to defend Anthony Federico or Max Bretos: that alarm bell about “chink” ought to ring loudly, though Bretos’ case seems very harsh because there are good odds he’s ad-libbing.)
N.B. I really, really wish the Poynter contributors listed on the right would assign bylines for the individual column or blog. It really seems even more distant and institutional for a royal “we” without any idea of who’s really talking here and why he or she has come to the conclusions he or she has.
When the Daily Show posts the clips from tonight’s show, you all ought to watch it again because it’s a brilliant slaughtering of PETA’s silliness.