We don’t need no educatin’

I really like the Rant D’Jour. It’s from August of 2009. I think the use of words to convey sounds is one of my strong points as a writer. See if you agree.

For the last two months the reasonably quiet Rising ranch has been a cacophony of construction sounds.
Normally it’s pretty quiet here. Oh sure…I really like the more

Blog Post for Thursday 2/17/11 – 33 degrees at 6:18 A.M. – It’s beginning to turn the corner. The weather. I hope.

ED Note: I will now stop making references to “Bounce Rate” in this space to try and get you to click through to other pages. Yesterday I put in three. The resulting bounce rate was the HIGHEST ever. So I give up.

I really don't hate school. I like school. I hate homework.

Today is homework day.

The assignment this week involved watching this documentary:

I highly recommend it, if you have 43 minutes to spare.

The assignment was to evaluate the sources used in the production. I watched it in class (Tried to. During the brief moments the mouthy student who talks incessantly wasn’t jabbering about something. You know who you are. STFU!) Then, as you will read, I viewed it two more times to dissect it.

I didn’t find out what I wanted to. Such is the cost of brutal assessment sometimes.

It’s still worth seeing.

I have met Peter Jennings. I watched him deliver the news for years. I consider him one of my broadcast mentors. He was an impressive example of what I thought a professional newsman should be. The facts here do not diminish him in my mind, but they do make me think.

Imagine my surprise when I dissected the special report he hosted, “Ecstasy Rising” and discovered that, at least from the perspective of the stop watch, the show was grossly biased.

My methodology was simple in the extreme. I watched the show with a stopwatch in hand and timed spoken sources. It’s sometimes a little ambiguous as to whether a source was pro or con about the drug so if there was any doubt in my mind I did not use the time in question.

This is, to say the least, an inexact count. I did watch the show twice, once to time each side. I certainly could have missed a source, there is no doubt that my timing was off. But probably not by much on either side.

The show was 43 minutes long. Almost 24 minutes (more than half) was taken up with spoken (human) sources.

On the pro side there were 25 different sources.
16 of what I would class as “users” of the drug.
6 professionals, ranging from scientists to Doctors to Psychologists.
And 3 Disc Jockey’s.

On the con side there 13 sources.
5 cops/DEA officials.
3 professionals.
2 writers.
1 President.
1 First Lady.
1 TV host.

So we can see that the number of sources was tilted strongly towards the “pro’ side. More than 50% skewed.

But possibly the amount of time devoted to the con side would even things up?
Sadly, this is not the case.

The con side clocks in at 8 minutes and fifteen seconds, while the pro side got to state their case for 15 minutes and twenty seconds.

In class you asked me in my experience as a radio producer how I would have made sure that the material I was working with ended up reasonably fair and balanced. I would have started with what I did here, used a stopwatch.

I would have had a problem with this show.

For the last two months
the reasonably quiet Rising ranch has been a cacophony of construction sounds.
Normally it’s pretty quiet here. Oh sure…I really like the more

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About James Rising

A recovering radio addict wrestles with the written word.
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