Banks County Opinions...

JUNE 11, 2003


Column

By: Adam Fouche
The Banks County News
June 11, 2003

Sosa conflict exposes media, society problems
If I were Sammy Sosa, I’d never grant another interview again.
No more SportsCenter. No more talking to Tribune reporters after Cubs games. And no more Sports Illustrated.
The 83 bats that were cut open, including several stored in sports museums, revealed no evidence of inpropriety. He doesn’t cork his game bats. But the explanation that Sosa simply made a mistake wasn’t enough to satisfy the national sports media.
And so for days the sports world droned on and on about the tarnishment of a man’s career—a baseball player that obvioulsy made a simple mistake. He picked up the wrong bat. It could have happened to anyone.
But the witch hunt of Sosa’s bat revealed more about the news media than it did about the baseball player himself.
Media, from the tiniest small town newspaper up to the largest media conglomerates, have grown into the tendancy to blow too many stories out of proportion.
As consumers, we are inundated with the likes of Eric Rudolph, Scott Peterson, SARS and monkey pox. We are force fed information so quickly and in such volumes that we really don’t have much time to digest or form opinions.
Turn on your TV. Flip through your cable channels. You’ll nearly find more 24-hour news shows than you will anything else. And many of them are slanted, one way or another, bending and shaping the news to project a certain ideology.
The sad thing is, the problem occurs on every level of journalism. We are probably even guilty of this ourselves.
Sure, we strive to be objective and fair and to present the news in such a way that it allows the reader to form his own opinions. But do we always do this?
Inevitably, a slow news week will occur. And since most media companies are driven by profit (they are after all a business) the most insignificant or miniscule bits of information can get blown out of proportion to fill a front page.
Hence we have done the exact opposite of what we should do—present the news the way it happens.
And though the media must shoulder some of the blame for the problems in this information age, the consumer isn’t totally blameless.
Without readers, viewers, website clickers or subscribers, the media wouldn’t survive. Because without an audience, there’s no advertising and the business of information can’t survive.
Amercia, thanks in part to technology, has become so information hungry that it thrives on a lot of news with a lot of detail in a great hurry.
And so the news media are left to fill that need, be it right or wrong, by reporting on news, sometimes even before the truth really comes out and sometimes blowing it way out of proportion.
Left in the wake of these massive news machines (driven by profit and the need of the people for a constant IV drip of news) are the Clarence Thomases, Richard Jewels and Sammy Sosas of the world. All of them burned by a society all too often hiding behind the First Amendment.
And the media, which does such a good job criticizing others, do very poorly in self-evaluation.
Sosa and all the others who came before him were wronged, often convicted in the media and society long before any evidence or even facts were researched and brought into the open.
And only once society can learn to turn its ears from a media thriving to gain an audience to survive, we will never start making any improvements.
Adam Fouche is a reporter for MainStreet Newspapers. His email address is fouche@nbank.net.
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Column

By: Jana Mitcham
The Banks County News
June 11, 2003

Rock star days
Somebody told me getting married is kind of like being a rock star for a day. Fancy clothes and styled coiffure, hours of posing for pictures and then more camera flashes going off every time you turn around, applause when you enter a room and applause when you leave the premises, a limo for being chauffered away.... yes, I can sort of see the analogy.
In our case, the vintage car didn’t crank when it came time to leave, but, even better, we were chauffered away by good friends in their SUV. They didn’t mind if, starving after our day of rock stardom and little food, we broke into the tray that had been packed for us and started wolfing down wedding cake, cheese, crackers and fruit in between kisses of wedding disbelief (whoa, are we really married!!?).
The VIP treatment continued throughout the week as we spent the first night of our honeymoon in Atlanta at a nice hotel near the airport, enjoying room service and a wall of windows from which to see the night skyline (and planes up close). Next day, we set out for Mexico, and the beautiful blue-green waters and white sands of Playa del Carmen.
We wore plastic yellow wristbands all week which, despite a certain hospital patient quality, provided entry to all the resort’s restaurants, room service, food and drink service as we lounged on the beach and had breakfast every morning on one of “our” two balconies overlooking the ocean. We ate so much fresh fish I even dreamed one night about fishing. We were so pampered and everyone was so gracious that over the course of the days we spent at the Gran Porto Real, I felt some twinges of guilt from time to time — those spoiled Americans!
Although we devoted much of the trip to lolling and lounging about under palapas on the beach, with an occasional dip in the ocean, we did spend one day sightseeing. If you read Angela Gary’s column last week on her trip to Cancun, you are already familiar with Xel-Ha and the Mayan ruins at Tulum. We took her advice and booked a day tour that included both sites, and it was advice well-heeded. We had a wonderful day; my only suggestion is that you carefully plot out your time at Xel-Ha so you can experience as many things as possible.
We spent the morning snorkeling in the blue lagoon there, swimming among fish ranging in color from purple to yellow and black-striped to orange. There were even some fish that were about half my length that swam with us as we snorkeled alongside a floating bridge.
I remembered Angie telling us how much she had enjoyed the “lazy river,” so we decided to try that out, too, after a lunch of shrimp fajitas. After we walked to the trolley area, rode up to the start of the river and got our double innertube, we realized that it was already 1:30 — a mere hour from the pick-up time designated by our bilingual tour guide, Ernesto, for those who wanted to visit the nearby Mayan ruins at Tulum. Uh-oh. Better hurry.
We started out on the river with me lounging about in the back of the innertube as Zach kicked us along. But after a while, he mentioned that he felt I should have a whip in hand, so I slipped into the water and started kicking, too. We paused long enough for Zach to join those climbing up and jumping off “cliffs” along the way, but then became panicked that we would miss the bus and started kicking in earnest. The lazy river quickly became a not-so-lazy experience as we paddled furiously past those who, curious, watched as they lay back peacefully on their floats.
As we neared the “mouth” of the river and the buildings were finally in sight, the wind picked up and blew the current against us. We finally realized we were merely kicking in place, gave up and started swimming hard, towing the float behind us. When we reached shore, panting, we asked someone the time — 2:12 (we churned out in 42 minutes what usually takes a leisurely two hours). She was looking for a float and we were looking for the quickest way out, so we passed the innertube to her and ran for the lockers and showers and to turn in our snorkeling gear. With wet hair and soggy clothes, we sprinted through the park toward the entrance and settled into our bus seats right at 2:30 with a sigh of relief.
We made it and went on to Tulum to learn more about the Mayan people who had lived there so long ago (although it is little known, there is still a very small Mayan community nearby) and to walk among the coastal ruins with red handprint designs still visible and carvings with intricate detail. We saw a big lizard here and there, too, of which we had been forewarned by Angie.
After another day of lazing around and being “VIPs” (per our travel agent’s description), we packed up and flew back to Atlanta, arriving in the midst of a thunderstorm. As the desk clerk at the Playa del Carmen hotel clipped off our yellow “all inclusive” wristbands, I felt a pang. Wait, wait, can we eat just one more time and have another cup of that coffee laced with a hint of chocolate?
Ah, well, special no more, I thought, but when we arrived home late Friday night, it was to find the floor covered with wedding gifts. We stayed up even later opening them all and marveling at the kindness of our family and friends. In addition to shifting things around in the house and beginning to pack up Zach’s apartment, we spent the weekend looking through candid photos from the wedding reception and from the honeymoon. We also used a couple of gift cards, picked out some of “our” furniture and started making our home together.
“So,” I asked on Sunday, “do you have a meeting Monday night?”
“Yes, do you?”
“Yes.”
Well, the rock star days are over. It’s back to reality, I guess, but with a married twist, as we learn to make our life together.
Maybe we can celebrate an anniversary at Playa del Carmen. I’m already making plans.
Jana Adams Mitcham is features editor of The Jackson Herald and a reporter for MainStreet Newspapers.


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