Wednesday, June 4, 2008

It's Osgood's Fault

I can't remember the last time I actually sat down and read a newspaper. I'm sure I've glanced at the occasional article, but actually picking up the latest issue and reading it is practically unthinkable at this point. This is very bad for the newspaper industry, because I am a journalism major.*

*Actual sequence of events during my academic career at Northwestern:

1. Promises are made regarding Medill's 100 percent job placement rate after graduation.

2. NU raises $1.5
BILLION dollars in a huge effort.

3. Professors inform us that the news media industry, in addition to being a frightening and horrid place where terrible people excel and truth is a habitual consequence, is losing money and lots of it. So it's a frightening and horrid place etc. that will not be hiring us.

4. NU raises tuition.

Don't major in journalism, kids

I used to read all types of papers, among them being the New York Times. That's over now, 'cause I get my news from the internet*, but the Times is technically part of the internet, so it still makes up a small part of my daily news gathering. There's been this really distressing trend I've been noticing recently that I've never picked up on before, and it centers on the Old Grey Lady.

*When did it become OK not to capitalize the word "internet"?

It's become cliche to call an institution like the Times "out of touch", but MAN, they've been doing this...thing that drives me up the wall. Take this story regarding the recent Mixed Martial Arts fight last Saturday:
“Way to go ‘Dirty Dan’ Miragliotta!” read one post on “What were your instructions? If Kimbo doesn’t get knocked out, make sure he wins the fight?”
Fine, right? Only whoever runs didn't write that. A commenter on the post wrote it.

POSTS are written by a blog's author. COMMENTS are written by people COMMENTING on a POST. This seems like a basic issue, one not worth getting worked up over, but it's similar to saying, "A story in the New York Times said recently that 'The New York Times sucks! I've read better writing out of Pravda!'--Jim Bob Jaworski, Bangor, Maine". It's merely commentary!

They get this wrong OVER and OVER again. It's misleading, and lazy, and weird.

There was a similar issue that happened today. If you haven't watched Barack Obama's victory speech on Wednesday, here's a screen cap from right before it, showing Michelle Obama congratulating her husband:
That's a fist pound. Or fist bump. One of those two things. You can really use either expression. Simple. Pound, or bump.

The Times referred to it, in this story, as a "closed-fisted high five".

What the hell.

There aren't any people at that paper who've ever engaged in a fist bump? Not a one? Impossible!

There's only one explanation.

Somewhere in the Times' copy desk, there is a man. He is old, likely over 70, clearly past retirement age, but no one will fire him because he has been at the paper for almost his entire life. I can picture his desk: full of pictures of him with the movers and shakers of the past fifty years, old Sinatra tapes, perhaps some quirky memorabilia he's acquired in his decades reviewing all the news that's fit to print.

His name is Osgood.

He's an institution at the paper. He is stubborn as the lid on a pickle jar. He does not understand anything after 1990 or so, when his mind started to go.

For some inexplicable reason, the Times sends every piece of technology or modern culture-related news his way to be edited.

I can see him now, in the fading half-light of his corner of the floor, peering over the story referencing that picture. He squints at the picture, then at the phrase "fist bump", that the reporter used to describe it. Osgood can feel the world closing in on him. What is this new means of expression? He can't fathom it.

Osgood snorts, and changes the phrase to "closed-fisted high five".

If he can't understand it, he'll be goddamned if anyone else can.


Jamar said...

Great minds think alike. I actually wrote about this very think today, albeit from a different perspective, but same general point. Good stuff.

michaeld said...

This is why every company needs young blood. Funny.