Brain Food: Lost in the Details

If you missed Barak Obama’s speech earlier today, see it here, and get back to this post when you’re done. I’m not backing any presidential candidates, but the speech can’t be missed. Besides, then you can take part in the fun — brain food fun, that is.

I received an email from MoveOn this afternoon (don’t worry, I get "righty" emails, too), and in addition to letting me know that it’s "one of the most honest, courageous, and thoughtful speeches" they’ve ever seen, they commented that the media had totally missed the point — "reducing
the whole thing to a few soundbites and hashing over whether he ‘did enough to condemn his pastor.’"

Surprisingly, this had not been my experience throughout the day. Granted, I was too busy to read much of anything all day, but from what little I could gauge, the consensus was awe — simple, uncomplicated awe.


Of course, I checked my media sources after receiving the aforementioned email. I got online — bullshit, I was already online — and went to The New York Times website, where I found "Obama Urges U.S. to Grapple With Racial Issue." Ok. True. Very appropriate title. That’s exactly what he did. But the first half does focus on the pastor — of course, his speech did as well. Perhaps it’s not how I would have led the story, but it’s fair enough.

I move on. I check other news sources. I’m not really seeing it. They’re journalists, right? They’re supposed to be reporting the facts, after all. They can’t express awe. Is that the problem?

When something beautiful or gruesome enough happens, it seems, we need to have it expressed to us somehow. Perhaps we’ve become lazy or weak, or even dumb, but we no longer seem capable of reacting on our own. The facts just aren’t enough anymore. It’s unfortunate; and one could definitely argue that for that very reason, we need to force the issue — that we can’t give up. But we’ve hardened to facts over time. It’s only natural.

Enter the blog. Why are we suddenly reaching out like desperate fools, poking people in Facebook, amassing "friends" in MySpace, concocting new Google groups, reconnecting with grade-school aquaintance, and checking our email 542 times a day? Oh — and writing and reading about navel explorations. Oh, my.

We want more than facts. We need more than facts. We need reaction. We need connection. We need context.

Enter the blog.

Clearly now, the little information I had received throughout the day was from blogs. Of course, it was awe. Some say it isn’t journalism. Frankly, I don’t care what it’s called. It is.

So, what then? Certainly we need facts. But do mere facts accurately paint a full picture? Do they offer vision, truth? Or in getting caught in the facts, do we miss the big picture?

Journalism, as we know it today, isn’t the origin of everything. It isn’t a seed for everything that follows. It’s just one of the things that follows and precedes — a part of the chain. Maybe we’re a little closer to our story-telling origins now. Who knows? But isn’t it all part of a progression, an evolution?

Who ever said facts have to be dry? Who ever said anyone should be anything less than subjective?

(I get it. I get it. Tomorrow I’ll rant about the importance of journalistic integrity. But today I’m enjoying the ride.)

"I sound my barbaric YAWP o’er the rooftops of the world." —WW