Predictions for the New Year

December 21, 2013

Well, it’s that time of year again. It’s list time.

I don’t know what it is about the last two weeks in December that make journalists everywhere compile inane lists about various things that happened over the past year, but it’s true. I’m not really fond of lists or anything, but they’re easy to make and I have the perfect topic.

2014 is going to be a big year for several reasons, and here’s why.

Republicans are going to stay in control of the House, and Democrats will stay in control of the Senate

Here’s why. Gerrymandering is a real thing. It still exists and all the voters in the United States have been manipulated within an inch of their lives. So even though there are a few notable congressmen and women who are retiring (re: Michelle Bachmann), the general political makeup of the House will remain the same.

Besides, there aren’t many notable challengers for the 2014 general election. So nothing’s really likely to change.

Jennifer Lawrence is going to crash and burn

I don’t like the thought, believe me. I adore J.Law as much as the next woman, but it’s only a matter of time. She’s in early 20s, and she’s already hugely successful. She’s going to experience the inevitable quarter-life crisis that every twenty-something experiences, and since she’s a celebrity, she’s going to do it publicly.

It’s a shame that people have put her on such a pedestal, because everyone’s going to hurt when she falls.

CNN is going to get worse

I am not particularly fond of television news so I don’t have a high opinion of CNN to begin with, but I think everyone can safely agree that it sucked in 2013. Ergo, it’s only going to get worse.

I hope Anderson Cooper has the sense to get out before it’s too late.

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Your political social media posts make me want to break shit with my face (or election rant No. 3)

October 18, 2012

I know I haven’t blogged in a while, folks, and I’m sorry about that. So to make up for it, I’m updating twice in one go. Because I love you.

Anyway: Brace yourselves for election rant No. 3 (No. 2 is right below this one).

<rant>

Social media is both blessing and curse. Blessing because now everyone can keep up with long-lost friends, stay informed of people’s lives, share photos and information with the drop of a hat and express themselves.

BUT. Pay attention to that last blessing, because it doubles as a curse.

Has anyone else noticed (in the 2012 election season especially) that their Facebook news feeds and Twitter timelines and Tumblr dashboards and whatever-the-hell-else-you-use-to-avoid-talking-to-people-in-real-life have devolved into this clusterfuck of awful? Because I certainly have.

And when I say awful, I mean AWFUL. Friend against friend, sibling against sibling, husband against wife. This shit is pervading my social media landscape with biting comments, angry retorts and other passive-aggressive fuckery. It’s turned social media into a damn war zone and I’m OVER THIS BULLSHIT.

Case in point: My friend, with whom I served on the Catholic Students Association executive board in college, recently shared a photo from the Obama campaign on his Facebook page. The simple act of sharing on Facebook, I think, is kind of innocuous. Basically, the Obama campaign has a Facebook page of its own and it posted a photo. My friend, who follows the Obama campaign on Facebook, saw the photo and clicked a little link called “share,” which allowed him to post the photo on his own timeline. Keep in mind, my friend added no commentary of his own to the photo. He just shared it.

Within SECONDS some other guy who was a part of the CSA with us (and someone I never particularly cared for) commented on the photo. In the comment he made a long list of legitimate reasons not to support Obama. Which was fine.

BUT THEN he ended it with this sparkly turd of a comment:

“So [friend], why do you support Obama again? Remember, he will fully fund and defend Planned Parenthood to the end. And he is at war with the Church and religion you claim to follow.”

OK, well ignoring the part about Planned Parenthood that makes no sense, THIS KID COULDN’T BE A BIGGER DOUCHEBAG IF HE TRIED. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s Catholics condmening and criticizing other Catholics.

And I could turn this into a separate post if I wanted to (and probably will at some point), but it’s just so damn WRONG. If we claim to be a faith that accepts one another, if we claim to be a faith of love and charity, this kind of criticism and condemnation is just plain wrong.

Not to mention, this is the kind of bullshit non-Catholics (hell, NON-CHRISTIANS) see that give us a pretty shitty name. When a brother or sister in Christ comes up to us and sees us condemning one another based on political views, it shows a lack of unity and a complete lack of Christian love.

AND ANOTHER THING: Both candidates have demonstrated opinions and advocated policies that go against Church teachings. Obama is the most infamous because he’s pro-choice. But Romney’s immigration policies chafe with the Catholic belief of demonstrating charity and compassion toward immigrants. As a Republican, Romney supports capital punishment, which JPII has condemned over and over again.

And tell me again, where in the bible did it ever say that amassing large amounts of wealth was a surefire way of getting into heaven? Remind me where Jesus advocated people going out, getting rich and not sharing. Demonstrate to me HOW the pursuit of wealth can ever be considered holy. I can’t remember where it said the wealthy should not pay taxes because they earned their money while the poor earned their poverty because they clearly haven’t worked hard enough. Because I must have missed that part of the bible when I read it. I’m still having a hard time trying to find it.

Anyway, after this jerkface posted his unbelievably mean-spirited comment, others followed. My favorites included:

[Jerkface], you need to respect people’s differing opinions. [Friend] can support Obama if he wants to, regardless of who you support. And you are free to support whoever you like, regardless of who agrees with you or not. But it is not at all acceptable for you to attack his faith, especially based on his political views.

Also:

Regardless of my own political views, i think it’s awesome that you are public with yours. Politics and faith unfortunately get tangled. They are not mutually inclusive or mutually exclusive.

But of course, this guy couldn’t leave it at that and had to comment with yet another glistening turd bomb.

I do respect other people’s views. And when I think they are in serious error, I will attempt to show otherwise. Especially when it involves intrinsic moral issues that affect 1 million unborn lives a year in the USA.

It is quite acceptable for me to call out other Catholics who mistakenly believe it is okay to publicly support a candidate who supports intrinsic evils, and who poses a real, and dangerous threat to religious freedom. It would be uncharitable, wrong, to let a fellow Catholic stray and commit public scandal by not challenging their position as they become an accomplice to the person they support.

By publicly endorsing someone such as Obama, one becomes an advocate of the policies and positions of that candidate. Since Obama is a huge abortion promoter and defender, it is impossible to disentangle the abortion issue from him. An endorsement of him, is an endorsement of the 1 million abortions provided per year in this country. The Church teaches this is an intrinsic evil that can never be justified. Interestingly enough, Hitler killed just over 1 million Jews a year. The US has far outdone what Hitler did since 1973.

These are kids I went to college with and served on a RELIGIOUSLY AFFILIATED STUDENT GROUP WITH. Since we all share a common faith, I thought I could sort of defuse the situation with some light-hearted truth.

I do not support Catholics criticizing other Catholics over political views. Unity, people! There’s enough division in the political world. We don’t need it in the Church.

Sigh. Silly me. I should have known that, in throwing my two cents in, I was opening myself up for attack.

There is no unity when grave sin is overlooked. Then it is false unity (a lie). There is unity in the Church on abortion…it is that it is an intrinsic evil and can never be tolerated. To dissent from that is to separate oneself from the Church.

My reaction went a little something like this:

Here’s the D: I’m all for freedom of speech, religion, the press and expression. I love the First Amendment. If I could marry it, I would. As an American citizen, I will always, always, ALWAYS support your right to free speech.

But as a Catholic, I can NEVER support you using your beliefs to condemn someone else. It’s like having a penis: It’s great if you have one, but you can’t go waving it around and you can’t go shoving it down kids’ throats.

And for the love of GOD, please keep this shit off social media! If you disagree with someone else’s opinions, grow a pair and confront them about it IN PERSON. Jerkface only wrote all of that crap because he was hiding behind a pretty awful picture and a keyboard. I guarantee you if he saw my friend in public, there was no way he would have said any of that judgmental shit to his face.

The truth of the matter is, we’re going to look back on all of this nonsense when we’re really fucking old and shake our heads at our own stupidity. Because that’s what this is: stupidity.

</rant>


Why I’m not a “feminist”

September 18, 2012

As a woman and former Missouri resident, the remarks of Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., last month about pregnancies resulting from rape made me cringe and outraged at the same time.

HOWEVER, if you’ll refer to my previous blog post about freedom of speech, you’ll note that, while I disagreed with (read: loathed) the factually incorrect and ignorant sentiment, I didn’t post an opinion about it because 1) he’s entitled to his (wrong) opinion and 2) it’s a fad issue.

But here’s the deal: I’m also Catholic. And I’m also pro-life.

While it’s baffling to think that a white, male legislator claims to understand how women’s bodies work better than, well, a woman, he and other pro-life legislators still have far more legitimate arguments about the actual issue he was discussing. And as a woman, I tend to agree with him.

I can’t believe I’m about to defend Todd Akin.

Anyway, I found this blog post on the Interwebs yesterday. In it, a staunchly liberal, pro-choice woman in Missouri attended a speech given by Akin. In the speech, he elaborated on how he believed that government shouldn’t have the right or the ability to deprive people of their freedom. The woman who wrote the post agreed, and said this includes depriving women their freedom to choose what’s right for themselves.

Then this happened.

A woman in the audience asked:

“You mentioned that you don’t like when we’re divided, because we’re all Americans. And I actually agree with how you said that but I really feel like you’re sending a mixed message because I feel like, when it applies to women, we do divide. It’s not about freedom because you have voted to deprive women of the right to choose about their bodies and about their health concerns and the things that they can do. So I feel like when you say it’s about freedom and unity, it seems like you’re kind of forgetting about your policies and how that alienates women and deprives them of their freedom. So how do you reconcile that?”

Akin answered:

“And that is a question, isn’t it, about abortion. And it’s a question, is it a person or not? If it’s not a person, then you’re not allowing a medical procedure would be taking your freedom with it. But if it is a person, then you are certainly taking someone’s freedom, the freedom of life from the child.”

The woman continued:

“You still have to acknowledge the fact that you are, in turn, depriving women of their freedom at the same time. I feel like if you say that it’s life at conception, that it trumps the freedom that you are depriving women, and I feel like you need to answer to that.”

Um…

This woman has answered her own question and subverted her own argument in the same damn sentence. If we’re arguing based on the claim that life starts at conception, then it’s really no longer an issue of personal freedom. The test of true freedom is whether it interferes with someone else’s. So if we’re going to argue based on the claim that the baby growing inside a woman’s womb is a person (and I strongly believe it is), then your “freedom” to choose whether it gets to live or die is no longer a freedom. In much the same way, I sometimes wish I had the “freedom” to run over stupid pedestrians with my car. But that’s not really a freedom. You know why? BECAUSE IT’S MANSLAUGHTER.

And that’s what the pro-life/pro-choice debate boils down to: whether you believe that the baby inside the womb is a person. Because if you did believe that it is a person, there’s no way you could possibly justify the “freedom” to decide whether it lives or dies.

This is the huge, raging problem I have with feminism and calling myself a feminist. The minute I mention that I believe a baby is a baby, inside the womb or out of it, I’m considered anti-choice and anti-rights and anti-equality. AU CONTRAIRE, FEMINAZIS. I happen to be very pro-rights because believe it or not, the PERSON growing inside of you deserves to have them, too.

So if you tell me that the little baby growing inside your womb is not a person, then fine. The argument you are using to justify your claim of personal freedom has a more sound grounding in logic. But don’t be surprised if I vehemently disagree with you.

UPDATE

Found this article by pro-life feminist Liz Hoskings a couple of hours after I posted this blog entry. In it, Hoskings talks about how pro-life feminists have been alienated by a movement that generally prides itself on acceptance because they disagree on the issue of abortion.

She also says that the abortion issue is not only divisive among feminists, abortion can also be seen as another tool of male oppression.

“From the ‘pro-life’ feminist viewpoint, mainstream feminism has sold out to what is a masculine worldview. Instead of fighting for equality on their own terms, women have been forced into adapting themselves to a wombless, male world.”

I haven’t thought much about this argument, but it’s an interesting one. I’ll have to examine it further.

Hoskings also invokes the names of mother suffragettes Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, my ultimate heroes.

Susan B. Anthony, the pioneer of American feminism, viewed abortion as infanticide, a view shared by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and a number of her prominent contemporaries, who looked on abortion not as being liberating, but as a tool of male oppression. As Stanton put it, when women had been treated for so long as property, it was degrading that they should treat their children as chattel. These pioneers viewed abortion as the ultimate exploitation of women, and yet were compassionate towards those who resorted to it, and reserved their scorn for those men who had used and abandoned them.

So much love for this woman. So. Much. Love.


Why so serious?

September 16, 2012

I’ve noticed an odd and dangerous trend sweeping social media lately, and I want to talk about it here.

When I come home for the day, my cat often gives me this very serious expression, like she’s judging me for something. I think most cats have this ability, but Bast’s eyes have a natural slope downward toward her nose, so she usually looks angry or consternated.

In an attempt at humorous commentary about my cat, I posted this as my Facebook status:

“I’m really getting tired of coming home to my cat judging me for my poor life choices.”

Obviously this is a joke. I don’t really have any regrets in my life. When I examine the path that had led me to where I am and the choices I’ve made thus far, I’m proud. I’m college-educated, and I have a job doing something I love. This job allows me to live in a nice apartment and not starve. It also allows me to have fun on the weekends. I live within my means. I go to Mass every week as dictated by my Catholic faith. I give back to charity. I volunteer when I have the time. I call my mother every evening. I don’t do drugs and I don’t drink to excess (very often, anyway). The only thing in my life I could really consider a vice is my smoking habit, but even that pales in comparison to everything else in my life I do right.

In short, I’m a good person, and I have a good life I’m thankful for because of God’s grace and also because I’ve made good life decisions. So it stands to reason that my friends who know me well enough to know how I live my life would recognize my status as a joke. PLUS, I cats don’t judge people. Or at least I don’t think so.

But one of my Facebook friends commented,

“so stop making poor life choices….”

Thinking that he knew it was a joke, I replied,

“MY CAT ALREADY JUDGES ME, [Facebook friend], I DON’T NEED YOU CHIMING IN.”

But apparently he didn’t realize the status was a joke because he answered,

“Im not judging you, if you’re going to put it out there for anyone to read then expect comments. If you aren’t happy with choices/decisions you make, fix it. It’s your llife and you control it.”

All I could do was shake my head and sigh.

As I’ve already pointed out, I have a good life as a result of my good decisions. So yes, condescending Facebook friend, I know I control my life. And I know how to control it. In all seriousness, I don’t need you trying to tell me with your well-meaning but patronizing platitudes about self-empowerment.

Not to mention, I very rarely ever post anything serious on Facebook. Most of my statuses (Stati? I really need to figure that out) are about funny events or witty commentary about my life. Case in point: my last Facebook status was,

“Too much pressure and I’m nervous!”

This, obviously, is a lyric from “Party in the U.S.A.” by Miley Cyrus. I was hanging out at a karaoke bar with some friends and we made two of our macho, cowboy-hat-wearing soldier friends sing it for us. I thought it was hilarious, so I posted it.

So I explained to my friend that the status was just a joke. And he said,

“lol ive gotten used to people taking fb verrry seriously.”

I’m sure this is true, but this is what annoys and saddens me. Whyyy do people take social media so seriously? I know potential employers check social media before hiring people nowadays, but that doesn’t mean you have to automatically stay away from content that shows wit or character. In fact, I doubt that my Facebook status about my cat would have raised any eyebrows in any potential employer.

Not to mention, if I really WAS making poor life choices, why the hell would I post about it on Facebook? Why in the world would I make that shit public for my entire friends list to see? For example, say I was a drug addict. Would I post statuses(i) or pictures about the huge amounts of coke I’m about to snort? No! You know why? BECAUSE THAT’S IDIOTIC.

I also don’t post inspirational quotes or song lyrics (because they mostly come off as cheesy). And I avoid posting anything political because it invites a bunch of uninformed and ridiculous commentary.

The problem as I see it is that people are getting way to fucking personal on Facebook nowadays. Leave your problems off of your status because you come across looking like a needy asshole or someone who doesn’t have your shit together. And let’s face it: if you’re putting your shit on Facebook for the whole world to see, you probably don’t have your shit together in the first place. I mean, if you were going through some crazy break up with your significant other or if your family was driving you crazy, would you tell random strangers about your problems? No.

Sigh. Maybe my inner-hipster is just really annoyed by the fact that my Facebook friend didn’t understand my hilarious irony.


Sunshine laws vs. Protecting anonymity

July 13, 2012

Sunshine laws are like a journalist’s bread and butter.

They help us preserve democracy. They help us expose corruption. They allow us to examine and inform the American electorate.

I love sunshine laws.

However, there are always, always, ALWAYS exceptions. Some exceptions are just bullshit, but some exceptions are legitimate concerns, and I think it’s all too easy to point the finger at government and immediately conclude that corrupt politicians are hiding something when really, there are more logical and less obvious reasons to withhold information for public consumption.

Case in point: There’s a huge fuss in my state over the department of family services withholding case files for a young girl in foster care who died as a result of severe abuse. There is evidence to suggest that the department had received multiple alerts from teachers and other adults who suspected what had gone on, but the department had done nothing to protect the child. The department is also fighting like hell to keep the public from viewing the records of the case.

So here’s the deal: What happened to that girl was absolutely horrible. I detest child abuse just as much as the next person, if not more. And if the coverage is to be believed, the department should be held responsible for not doing its job.

BUT (and bear with me) there is a logical explanation for why they refuse to turn over the girl’s records.

Some background. Before I got this job, I worked as a reporter in a neighboring state, and one of my pet projects was foster care. I learned everything there was to to learn about the system and the laws of that state short of becoming a foster parent myself. I hung out with foster parents for 12 hours a day. I talked to kids both in and out of the system. I listened to more terrible stories than I care to remember. I became somewhat of an expert on all of the laws and issues regarding childcare in that state, and I came to have a healthy respect for those laws. Mostly, the laws sought to protect the privacy of the children in the system. I couldn’t publish photos of a foster kid. I couldn’t even take a photo of a foster kid. I also couldn’t print their names. Here’s an example of why.

Imagine you’re a foster kid. You’ve been with your foster parents for three weeks and it’s been a huge adjustment. You’re living with strangers. You’re dealing with household rules for the first time in your life. You’re at a completely new school where the kids bully you and make fun of you all the time because you’re new and you’re also a little weird because your mom was a meth addict who died before you were six, and your dad used to beat you with a broomstick for fun. He also failed to feed you properly, so you’re skinny, and your joints are all knobby. Your clothes don’t help much with your popularity—your shirt is 10 sizes too big for you because the state doesn’t give your new parents enough to take care of you, so all they can afford to dress you in is your older foster siblings hand-me-downs. And the local paper just printed your photo and name on the front page, identifying you as a foster kid. That’s going to go over really well with the bullies on the playground. Not to mention, your father’s out on bail and now he can find where you live and take you back. What do you do now?

It’s a very real concern, keeping foster children anonymous. It’s not just because the state likes to keep secrets: It’s for the children’s protection.

Now, you may be thinking, “But Carla! That poor girl’s already dead because of state secrets! There’s no use protecting her anonymity any more!” And you’d be right.

But releasing her records sets a dangerous precedent. After it happens once, who’s to say that they shouldn’t do it every time, regardless of whether or not the foster child is alive or dead? It would snowball into a huge clusterfuck. The department has to draw the line somewhere.

In conclusion, sunshine laws are important for holding government accountable. But exceptions are also important for keeping children safe.


I’m probably the only journalist who likes “The Newsroom”

July 4, 2012

This is how I feel about John Gallagher Jr. as Jim Harper.

I’m a bit late to “The Newsroom” review party, but whatever. I’m throwing my two cents into the fountain that is the Internet.

For a long time (read: past four years) I’ve wondered to myself why there haven’t been more television drama series based on journalists. I mean, there are practically a billion cop dramas and hospital dramas and way too many stupid shows about high schools and supernatural crap. I mean, seriously, if I see one more vampire-themed television show, I will lose it.

Television needs revamping, you know? And what job lends itself better to artificial drama and scandal than journalism? I ask you! The newsroom is the perfect environment in which to deliver the kind of gut-wrenching, edge-of-your-seat, tear-jerking drama: You have deadlines, breaking news, angry politicians, cops with axes to grind, everything. It’s also the perfect environment to deliver moments of hilarity: Stressed out editors and reporters (most equipped with razor-sharp sarcasm), crazy sources with conspiracy theories, and and endless supply of double entendres.

So when Aaron Sorkin came along with “The Newsroom” based on a fictional news network and a charismatic, disconnected anchor, a stressed out, quick-witted staff with an idealistic executive producer, I thought to myself, “FINALLY. Something new!” Additionally, when I found out that the series would air on HBO, I knew it was going to be incredibly well-produced overall.

Part of the reason this review is so late in coming is because I just recently got around to watching it. As a journalist too broke to pay for cable much less a TV, I was incredibly grateful to Sorkin for putting it up on YouTube. (Seriously, Sorkin, you get me like nobody else does. Marry me.)

I watched the pilot before I read the reviews, and let me tell you: I LOVED IT. Granted, Emily Mortimer probably wouldn’t have been my first choice as Mackenzie McHale. Her energy was a bit too slow and exaggerated when compared to her fellow cast mates, but it was a minor irritant compared to the incredible chemistry among the rest of the cast. Alison Pill as Margaret Jordan and John Gallagher Jr. as Jim Harper was BRILLIANT casting. Absolutely phenomenal. And Jeff Daniels as the gruff, testy boss and anchor Will McAvoy was simply amazing. He breathed incredible life into his character. He delivered his lines with passion and conviction and for the first time in a long time, I was able to watch a television show and completely suspend my disbelief, which my journalistic spidey-senses rarely allow me to do.

And the SCORE. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it on this blog before, but I was the biggest band nerd ever from 4th grade to my senior year of high school. I played flute and euphonium (for those of you who know what that is, I salute you), so I developed a deep passion and appreciation for classical music and any and all music scores. Music is a huge part of any cinematic or television experience, and a good score will significantly enhance your enjoyment and effectively add drama to the storyline. Oftentimes, the music for any scene can drive the plot more than the actors ever could.

The score for “The Newsroom” is nothing short of beautiful. The track for the opening sequence almost brought tears to my eyes. The simple, opening piano melody starts off at a mezzo-forte, with soft violins weaving in and out behind it. Then, with the help of those same violins, it builds until it cuts off with a roll of the timpanis and lets the strings take over the melody. And as the sequence continues, the music keeps building and building until the whole orchestra is a part of it. It ends with one haunting flute note hanging in the air, echoing with a sound reminiscent of discovery and an unknown future. Just amazing. Simply beautiful.

The story for the pilot itself was hooking. The opening scene where Will McAvoy lays into an unsuspecting, if not stupid, college student to bash her ethnocentrism was pretty awe-inspiring, and it had some of the most brilliant and clever rhetoric I had heard in a long time. After the opening scene, the rest of the show starts en media res, with Don Keefer, played by Thomas Sadoski, arguing with his girlfriend, Maggie. It’s a great tactic for drawing the audience in immediately and making them pay attention — we have to infer what’s going on from the argument until it all becomes clear later on in the show.

And setting the opening episode against the drama of the BP oil spill was a genius idea. It was the biggest news story of 2010, so the audience already knows about it. It also highlights how a news show is put together with a breaking news story from start to finish, so the audience worries less about the actual information they’re reporting on and more on the process.

All-in-all, I felt an incredible sense of satisfaction about the pilot, knowing that there was now a well-produced, well-written show about news out there; One that put journalists in the center of the conversation instead of making them the butt of the joke.

So imagine my surprise when my fellow journalists wrote about how much they hated it.

OK, so I kind of get how TV reporters would be pissed. I’m not in broadcasting myself, so I can’t attest to the accuracy of the process. I’m sure if I was in broadcasting, I’d be less inclined to suspend my belief, but whatever. If every drama series was based on accuracy, there would be no Grey’s Anatomy or Law & Order.

But when columnists and reporters complained that Sorkin used his new television show as a platform to preach about journalistic integrity, about not pandering to the audience, about giving the people what they need instead of what they want — I was baffled.

I mean, COME ON. I guarantee you every single newsroom across the country every single day has the same exact conversation. When our web masters bug us about SEO in our web headlines because we didn’t get enough hits on a story we thought would bring in major traffic, or when our ratings analyst says the people want more celebrity news, or when our editor wants to dedicate thirty whole inches to the little miss beauty pageant at the state fair (that’s a bit more recent, but another story for another time), we all throw our pens down on our desks, wave our fists at our superiors and threaten very loudly and in no uncertain terms to quit. Or we may do something far more passive aggressive. Whatever.

The point is, it happens. And we talk about it. And we worry about it all the dang time. And we should worry about it. It’s a very fine line between entertainment and news and there’s no rulebook. We are the final arbiters. We worry about ratings, we worry about web traffic, we worry about advertisers, but we also worry if we’re informing the public to the best of our abilities. That’s the nature of the business. That’s the state of journalism today. THAT’S WHERE WE’RE AT.

Sorkin pointed it out. He shoved it right in our faces, and the industry detested him for that. He made it apparent to civilians what goes on in newsrooms and the conversation we have about content, and journalists hated it.

So it’s bullshit and hypocritical to say that Sorkin was being “preachy.” The truth of the matter is, every journalist feels the same way as Mackenzie McHale. We got into the news business because we wanted to affect change. We wanted to make a difference. We wanted to inform people before they walked into the voting booth. And I do not care who you are: You could be the most cynical, jaded veteran journalist on the planet, but deep down, you feel the same way. That’s why you’re still here. That’s why you haven’t quit yet, even though a dying industry, an all-too-loud Internet platform, a disheartening and disinterested public and an overbearing, greedy publisher and/or network regularly force you to reconsider early retirement. You’re in it because you still care.

“The Newsroom” portrays that. We’re still an industry that cares. So stop trying to say that you don’t.


Non-racism

June 10, 2012

I have resigned myself to the fact that no one will ever get my ethnicity right.

I don’t hold it against anyone. No one is purposely being racist. It’s just a simple fact of life.

Let’s take into consideration the facts about myself:

  • I have black hair.
  • I have dark skin.
  • I have a Spanish last name.
  • I grew up in Texas.
  • I have a pretty thorough command of the Spanish language.
  • My parents are immigrants.

So that all points to…CORRECT! Mexican. Or at least some kind of Latino. But the Texas part sort of narrows it down to Mexican.

And like I said, it doesn’t bother me. All of those factors combined make it confusing, so I have a lot of patience and understanding for the fact that people don’t automatically know that I’m Filipino. The only part that gets awkward is having to correct their assumptions.

Case in point: Yesterday I went to Mass. Last week this woman who sat alone in the front row invited me to sit with her, so I did. I sat with her and her elderly friend Doris and they were delightful. But when Doris introduced herself, she said,

I asked Sheila if she asked you, “Como se llama?” I’m not fluent in Spanish, but I do remember key phrases from high school.

I just nodded and smiled. I mean, what the hell was I supposed to say? This was the first time in weeks that Doris had been out of the hospital and been able to attend Mass in person. I wasn’t about to embarrass her because of her mistaken assumption.

So I let it slide.

I suppose I bring this up because it begs a greater question: How do I correct people about my ethnicity while managing to maintain any sort of social grace? Do I just let it go altogether? Like I said, it doesn’t bother me when people think I’m Mexican, so should I just assume that ethnicity for the rest of my relationship with them?

When I bring this up to fellow Filipinos, they become indignant because they think it’s because I’m ashamed of my ethnicity. That couldn’t be further from the truth. My parents raised me to be Filipino and proud, so I am. I am proud of being a strong, intelligent, Filipina woman.

But the truth of the matter is, my ethnicity isn’t the only facet about me. It’s not even the most important facet. Yeah, I’m Filipino, not Mexican. But that’s why I don’t mind when people get it wrong: Because my ethnicity doesn’t define me. Like how one’s sexuality doesn’t define a homosexual person. I am not my skin color.

Anyway. I guess what I’m trying to say is I’m getting better at impersonating a Mexican.