Thursday, October 4, 2012

Media Hysteria

A  2012 survey by The Environics Institute revealed that Canadian trust of the mass media to be at an all-time low of six per cent.

Comes to mind last month's much ado about nothing involving a Toronto Blue Jays shortstop, Yunel Escobar, who wrote in ungrammatical Spanish on his adhesive facial patches Tu ere maricon.  According to José Latour, a Cuban-Canadian author writing in The Globe and Mail of Oct 3, this common expression in Cuba means a number of things: You are a homosexual, fool, coward, cheapskate, wife-abuser, deceitful, and despicable.

No one in the media asked the accused which meaning he attached to the word. Lack of research did not hamper knee-jerk reactions, and presentation of the event as would best create an issue and attract readership. Newspapers used gallons of ink to condemn this multi-meaning word, choosing of course that meaning which created the greatest media stir, the homosexual angle.

Editorials and opinion pieces proliferated, along with reports, think-pieces, the usual word peddling, and letters, some verging on the hysterical. Long after the story was no longer newsworthy, the Toronto Star kept stirring the ashes of a superficial issue gone cold.

Escobar was vilified, condemned and everything but crucified at the goading of the media. A normally calm CBC morning radio sports reporter raged that he be "fired". He seemed unaware that the Blue Jays organization cannot fire Escobar with multi-million-dollar contract. He can only traded to a club with equally deep pockets. [Along with five other Jays, in a purely business deal, he was later traded to Miami.]

Will readers, viewers or listeners trust the media when they report something truly and not fictively offensive? Or will believers remain limited to that six per cent?


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