Posts tagged with ‘media’

The medium is the message

In 1999, film critic Roger Ebert was asked about the role that violent films play in school shootings. I totally agree with his response, and I feel it’s worth republishing in light of the Newtown shooting.

"The day after Columbine, I was interviewed for the Tom Brokaw news program. The reporter had been assigned a theory and was seeking sound bites to support it.

'Wouldn’t you say,' she asked, 'that killings like this are influenced by violent movies?' No, I said, I wouldn’t say that.

'But what about Basketball Diaries?' she asked. 'Doesn’t that have a scene of a boy walking into a school with a machine gun?' The obscure 1995 Leonardo DiCaprio movie did indeed have a brief fantasy scene of that nature, I said, but the movie failed at the box office (it grossed only $2.5 million), and it’s unlikely the Columbine killers saw it.

The reporter looked disappointed, so I offered her my theory.

'Events like this,' I said, 'if they are influenced by anything, are influenced by news programs like your own. When an unbalanced kid walks into a school and starts shooting, it becomes a major media event. Cable news drops ordinary programming and goes around the clock with it. The story is assigned a logo and a theme song; these two kids were packaged as the Trench Coat Mafia.

The message is clear to other disturbed kids around the country: If I shoot up my school, I can be famous. The TV will talk about nothing else but me. Experts will try to figure out what I was thinking. The kids and teachers at school will see they shouldn’t have messed with me. I’ll go out in a blaze of glory.’

In short, I said, events like Columbine are influenced far less by violent movies than by CNN, the NBC Nightly News and all the other news media, who glorify the killers in the guise of ‘explaining’ them. I commended the policy at the Sun-Times, where our editor said the paper would no longer feature school killings on Page 1.

The reporter thanked me and turned off the camera. Of course the interview was never used. They found plenty of talking heads to condemn violent movies, and everybody was happy.”

No business casual shirt, no shoes, no reporting

Major League Baseball last month issued dress guidelines for media members, making the MLB the first pro league in North America to do so.

The media should dress “in an appropriate and professional manner” with clothing proper for a “business casual work environment” when in locker rooms, dugouts, press boxes and on the field, the new MLB guidelines say.

The panel that wrote the guidelines included female and Latin reporters and there was input from team trainers, who had health concerns about flip-flops in clubhouses and bare feet possibly spreading infections, according to the AP. Such footwear is no longer permitted.

Other attire that was banned: visible undergarments, tank tops, anything with a team logo, see-through clothing, ripped jeans, one-shouldered and strapless tops, clothing exposing bare midriffs, and skirts, dresses or shorts cut more than 3 to 4 inches above the knee.

Pretty much everything in the photo above.

I’m not a fan of dress codes (I could write an entire post on that alone), so I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I don’t think one thing that was banned is unreasonable. 

Keep it classy and you’ll be fine, MLB media. 

~M.M.

Photo: GCobb.com