May 19, 2014

Hey media, get a Clue!

Everyone has their 15 minutes of fail, a famous artist never said. This past week, many of the journalists I know were mesmerized by one particularly fantastic fail: the communications debacle of New York Times' staff, among each other and to the public, surrounding the kicking out of tree-clubhouse-in-chief Jill Abramson. 

Now, I don't know what portions of what was reported out of the Abramson fallout are true, and it appears that neither do the reporters who reported them. I was asked to "read this great piece" over and over again until all the "great takes" and anonymous sourcing melded into a cloud of gossip dust that blocked the sun. 

Everyone being used as sources for the Abramson story was in a different room, I guess, when the 15,000 possible reasons she didn't get along with her bosses developed. Remember: Nothing is real (except the struggle). Let's be honest with ourselves, The New York Times is one big game of weirdo media clue right now and there are seven different possible director endings and we're supposed to pick the narrative we think makes the most sense and argue until we die

EXCLUSIVE image by @darth. 

The coolest part about this is, we apparently have no way to evaluate gender bias in a professional society that made a business model out of distributing information to the public. By focusing on the general fact of "tensions" in the work place and our personal experiences with gender conflicts, we get to wipe our hands clean and walk away! Wait. That's not right. 

In an effort to gain any context around the chaos of Abramson's exit, I opened my eyes. I saw a land peppered with failures. They are all around us, invading our personal space annoyingly in the same way cartoons enveloped the human characters in Who Framed Roger RabbitI needed a muse to get me through all of the fail from the past week, so I picked none other than the Leader of the Fail, Larry David.

Larry's despondency and bitterness reminded me so much of how I felt trying to keep up with the New York Times drama: 

Here are some non-Abramson failures that helped me feel a little better about the media right now, and I hope they make you feel a bit better, too: 

Other failure #1: A Kardashian confused the number one (1) with the number five (5), leading to a teenage virtual uprising. Kendall Jenner said on live television on Sunday that she is "the worst reader" and then laughed about it, and even teenagers cannot.

Other failure #2: Google has to delete some search results for some people and not other people, which means the European Union just confused all of our lives, and Google gets to decide how they meet those standards, meaning effectively the company has been given more power than ever before. In this week's Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, the show's host reviewed how stupid the ruling is (video). And then Oliver tweeted out his greatest personal failure, this picture, and you should too through #mutuallyassuredhumiliation: 

Other failure #3: In a lawsuit near and dear to my own heart, Apple is being sued for its poor handling of iMessage, its special chatting system for cool Apple device users that also severely limits the communication of non-iMessage SMS to other devices. I was interviewed by Rob Pegoraro about this awful awful failure of technology in March, after realizing Apple had cut off all of my ability to receive texts on a Samsung Galaxy phone. The solution to all this is to just give up on everything. It's worked out for me well.

Have you forgotten about Abramson yet?

Neither have I. Let's keep going. 

Other failure #4: A journalist in Morocco might go to jail for linking to a video the government didn't like, leading the Washington Post's editorial board to write: 
"It is obvious that the monarch fears unfettered journalism will raise uncomfortable questions about its rule. Such is the unspoken nightmare of autocrats everywhere. They fear a free press and open debate will undermine their legitimacy. Certainly, a free press can be prickly, unpredictable and independent, but bottling it up just leads to more pressure later on — and more doubts about legitimacy." 
I'm starting to remember now why I liked it before the past week happened... 

It's related to stories like this one about how sea turtles may all turn female due to rising global temperatures. 
Or how almost half a billion dollars was spent on failed Obamacare insurance exchanges
Stories about how peace between Israel and Palestine has failed again. 
Or that more and more college presidents are millionaires in an age when education's value is questionable. 

Outrage! Yelling! Scandal! Yelling! 

The media does a great job of having clarity about failures outside of itself. Its own failures, we have a harder time understanding. I don't know why. Stop asking me questions. All is lost. 

Have you forgotten about Abramson yet? 

Enjoy your candy,