A new study shows that television-viewers, for the large part, stick around to watch television commercials. In fact, in some instances, the commercial viewership was higher than that of the programming itself.
Archive for October, 2007
Earlier this year, the AP released a poll that showed that one in every four Americans didn’t read a book last year. Though many reacted with alarm, I shrugged my shoulders and said, “So What?”.
I don’t subscribe to the ubiquitous notion that to not read books–especially those canonical in nature–relegates one to social ineptness. There are dozens of forms of media–newspapers, magazines, radio shows, podcasts, youtube videos, movies, television–and there is no logical proof to show that reading books trumps these other mediums.
Before linking to the New York Magazine review of the book How to Talk About Books You HavenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t Read, I will issue the same ironic caveat as the reviewer: I haven’t read the book in question.
That being said, I was particularly interested in this section of the review:
But Professeur Bayard, a practicing psychoanalyst, is not so interested in practical tips. His goal is more ambitious: He wants to cure us of the deep cultural neuroses that govern our reading. His main argument, synopsized identically in reviews from here to Berlin, runs roughly as follows. Western culture has fetishized books almost as much as it has breasts and cash. Our reading is governed by a corrosive idealism that fills us all with secret shame: We believe we should be doing it more and better, and that, until we do, we fully deserve to be sneered at by college dropouts at the Strand.
I haven’t read Moby Dick. I may or may not have read a Jane Austen book at some point; I can’t remember. I have certainly not read Ulysses . In fact, when you take the time to consider that I was an English major in college, my ignorance of the canon is astounding.
Still, on a daily basis I listen to over an hour of NPR news, read through hundreds of blog posts and newspaper articles, listen to podcasts ranging from This American Life to BBC film reviews, read the New Yorker from cover to cover and even manage to read the occasional history book chapter or see a movie or watch a television show.
These media outlets are the amalgamation of my curiosity and search for knowledge. And yes, I do buy and read books sometimes, but I count myself lucky if I finish half a dozen a year.
The caricatures who most often follow the apocryphal fetishism of books are the ones most likely to complain that TV is “all crap.” My Dear, look at the bookshelves at your local bookstore. The vast majority of every form of media is shit. For those who are intellectually curious–like me–the trick is to wade through it and find the gems.
God, I never thought I’d ever write a subject header like that, but I’ve grown tired of journalists who get outraged when people dare to criticize a religion–acting as if they’re akin to being racist or bigoted.
If you’re not privy to what has happened– Ann Coulter appeared on a CNBC show, and in an interview with Donny Deutsch, said that Jews should become “perfected” by converting to Christianity. Her argument was that Christianity was the correct religion, and that Jews should accept the New Testament, thereby “perfecting” their religion.
Now, I don’t agree with her conclusion, but I disagree with Deutsch’s reaction:
DEUTSCH: But that’s what you said Ã¢â‚¬â€ don’t you see how hateful, how anti-Semitic …How do you not see? You’re an educated woman. How do you not see that?
Well, Deutsch, how do you like this: Judaism is bullshit. And I’m not hateful or bigoted for saying so, because Judaism, like all religions, is a belief system. Of course Coulter thinks her religion is the better one, that’s why she subscribes to it; if she thought another religion were better, she would follow it. It’s time that journalists stop treating religion with kid gloves. Richard Dawkins, in his book The God Delusion, devoted an entire chapter to the notion that is dominant in the US that to harshly criticize religion is to engage in hate speech. And yet it’s perfectly suitable for people to harshly criticize Marxism, conservatism, liberalism, neoconservativism, or just about any other moral or political philosophy.
But why can’t the same be done for religion?
Because religion is irrational and illogical. It can’t hold up to reasonable scrutiny, so its followers have shrouded it in a protective shield, so that the mere utterance that a dominant religion is “inferior” is met with shrieking hysterics. How pathetic.
I have long held disdain for the weekly “Questions For,Ã¢â‚¬Â a Q and A column written by Deborah Solomon in The New York Times Magazine, and I rarely read it. It’s usually a dozen or so questions with a semi-famous person. The answers are often bland and uninteresting. Take this interview with Sarah Silverman, for instance. The comedian seems merely bored and annoyed with her interviewer–the questions are just as uninventive as they are empty.
And, as it turns out, the questions are fabricated. According to the NY Times ombudsman, Solomon has taken interviews that have lasted over an hour and cut and pasted them into segments that make it seem as if they took place in a span of minutes. Not only that, the “journalist” took the answers given by the interviewee and stuck them after questions she had never asked.
Her motive for doing so, she has said, is to edit for clarity. And here lies the problems with Q and A interviews: they don’t transfer well to print.
The worst of these kinds of interviews, in my opinion, are ones conducted with fiction and poetry writers, especially ones that are unknown to me. What could be more tedious than reading a long interview about the fictional plot or style of a book you’ve never read?
Secondly, as a journalist who has conducted hundreds of interviews, I understand that the vast majority of people are not articulate enough to produce mountains of readable speech. Sentences are often interrupted with “um” and other awkward pauses. They go off on tangents mid-sentence (this is when the careful use of ellipsis must be used), and even the most educated can have mildly atrocious grammar because of the speed at which their thoughts are processed when they speak.
Yes, I’ve been guilty of producing Q and A interviews here at bloggasm in the past, but I have since ceased to conduct them. But even when I did– and yes, a lot of those interviews weren’t very interesting–they were usually over email, giving the interviewee the chance to sound at least moderately intelligent.
I think periodicals would do well to leave the Q and A interviews to the broadcast journalists–Terry Gross, Jon Stewart–and focus on producing readable narratives with carefully chosen quotes.
Yes, the video below is hilarious because Paris Hilton once again looks like an idiot. But as a journalist I was struck by Letterman’s interview skills. Listen to Hilton’s responses. They’re all one-word “yes/no” answers. It wouldn’t surprise me if most journalists absolutely hate interviewing her. Watching that youtube segment makes me cringe when I think of all the interviews I’ve conducted with empty-headed people who have absolutely nothing to say.
But Letterman just runs with it. Each yes/no answer is met with a rapid-fire follow-up question. It goes so smoothly that it almost seems rehearsed.
Youtube video embedded below:
1. How to write about Africa
2. Ambushing interview subjects
3. Wars between the White House press secretary and the media
4. The Riches