An Alaskan journalist's perspective on local and national issues

Posts tagged ‘Heather Aronno’

UAA College Democrats, a parting of the ways

I am a member of the UAA College Democrats.  It was something that, I will admit, I first got into because I was just trying to escape.  And now, as I look at where things are heading, where it looks to end, I am feeling a stab of deep pity, not just for myself, but for those involved, and I don’t hold it against our leader.  I hold it against our school.  And now, a parting of the ways is happening.

The University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) is a commuter’s school, for the most part.  The bulk of students are in Nursing.  It is the largest field that employs here in Alaska.  Part of me thinks that maybe I should have gotten into that.  It is a career path that can be pretty lucrative, but it involved a metric ton of work.  Well, any career field does that.  In any case, this is the school that I attend.  It is a school where kids come and kids go.

There has never been a unifying force that is behind it.  There has never been an effort to get all the students to come together and be something more than just those who come and go.  The college is continually trying to have events that get students interested.  I figure that only a precious few even draw a decently sized crowd.  It has always been that way.

And therefore, since the college itself has no unifying efforts, or large group who is working to be a part of what goes on there, clubs are also criminally small.  Now that I think about it, UAA represents America at large, in a way.  It is a place where people are only concerned about their own interests.  They get involved only if it affects them.  If they are going to have to lose some of their time to it, they will fight what is happening.  People don’t really care about what happens.  Unless of course, it affects their wallets.  Touch the kids’ money, and they will get right to getting involved.  There really is a lot of poetic irony in the fact that UAA does seem to represent how most of this country is.  People come and go, not caring about the major issues, not caring about the major problems, not caring at all.

And this leads us back to the UAA College Democrats.  The leader, Heather Aronno, is stepping back.  I don’t shame her that.  One of the things that I live by is “do what you feel,” which is really the shorter version of “do what you feel is right for you.”  She has a career path in mind where some level of objectivity will be required.  Granted, I don’t believe in true objectivity, but that isn’t the issue here.  She has to do what is right by her, and at the same time, I, and apparently somebody at KRUA, could see the writing on the wall.  The UAA College Dems are coming to an end.

When one looks at American politics, it isn’t surprising.  People don’t want to get involved in all of that anyway.  And given how people at UAA don’t give a crap about what is going on, or the people who are doing things, then it really makes a lot of sense.  This group was held together by Heather and John Aronno.  A lot of burden to be placed on two people, and now, it is just destined to come apart.  I hope I am wrong, but really, those two were the only ones who were making a significant effort.  I tried to be more involved, but I did really a lot of jack in the grand scheme of the club.  Those two balanced the whole damn thing on their backs.

And now, Heather is making a move to further her own future, which is a good thing to do.  And as she steps back, hoping that another will step forward, I think her and I both know that such is not to be.  Nobody will want to have that on their shoulders.  Nobody will want to work that hard.  It’s sad, horribly sad, but true.

So I raise my can of Vanilla Coke to you, UAA College Dems.  We have reached a parting of the ways.  May you rest in peace.  It was an effort by two good people to make something worthwhile to get people involved here on campus, and then to have that translate out to something more.  But it will perish because of a lack of those who want to get involved.  Perhaps someday, somebody will want to step forward and bring it back.  I hope so.

Au revoir, UAA Dems.  We hardly had time to get to know one-another, but like most things in life, it was a good run, and when one is trying to make a difference in this world, or just trying to do something productive, that is about all that you can hope for.

Peace out,

Eli

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The Difference Between Corporate News and Real News

Fox News has had a big event that they published on their network as being one of the major campaign hits against the liberals.  Fox News Sunday had Jon Stewart on their network.  It was an interview with Chris Wallace.  This was a pretty cool interview to watch.  Thank goodness somebody on YouTube had the sense enough to post the interview.  Part one is here.  Part two is here.  This was a great catharsis for those of us who believe in the genuine media that it is supposed to be.  For those of us who believe in real reporting, who believe that political commentary can be combined with getting all the facts, it felt good to listen to Jon Stewart bash all of the corporate news networks.

Jon Stewart had a great quote about what he believes 24-hour news networks exist for.

 24-hour news networks are built for one thing, and that’s 9/11.  And the type of gigantic news event that the type of apparatues that exists in this building and exists in the other 24-news hours is perfectly suited to cover.  In the absence of that, they’re not just gonna say ‘there’s not that much that’s urgent or important or conflicted happening today, so we’re going to gin up.  We are going to bring forth more conflict and more sensationalism because we want you to continue watching us 24-hours a day, seven days a week.  Even when the news doesn’t necessarily warrant that type of behavior.'”

A long quote, yes, but absolutely correct, and horribly brutal against the networks who do 24-hour broadcasts.  Sure, I get my political commentary from Keith Olbermann (so glad he’s back!), Rachel Maddow, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and Lawrenece O’Donnell, but there is a reason that all straight news that this reporter gets is from BBC or PBS Newshour.  The major corporate media is not designed for the kind of news that isn’t in conflict, isn’t sensational.  Because let’s face it – the news is boring.  To most people, who don’t care two craps what happens in the world, news is not something fun.

Watch the BBC news or PBS Newshour and you’ll see for yourself.  The news is generally delievered in a monotonous way that doesn’t seem all that entertaining.  The talk in a very low-key way.  They do this because the bulk of information that matters isn’t sensational.  It’s important, yes, but it’s often dull.   Talking about politics can be pretty fun.  Finding the funny side of things is the reason that Jon Stewart has a job in the first place.  But it also needs to be taken seriously, which is how O’Donnell, Maddow, and Olbermann tend to treat it.  But the fact is that raw news is rarely a lot of fun.

You can drive in your car and have NPR playing, and most times, you won’t listen all that hard.  It’s not a bad thing to be that way.  It’s the way of the world.  You perk up and turn the radio up when something really catches your interest.  That’s how people work.  There are different things that interest different people.  But to even listen to something on a topic you like in the monotonous way that NPR reporters talk takes an amount of dedication and, I guess it would be patience, that the bulk of people in this country don’t have.  So, how does the corporate media make up for this?  They sensationalize.

Does anybody remember the backlash after Anthony Weiner was found out for having sent images of his junk to other women?  The media went off their nut about this!  Jon Stewart brought this up as an example.  After he decided to capitulate to the six-year-old (in spirit) members of Congress and step down, Nancy Pelosi was going to make a press conference.  Everybody from the major media organizations was expecting her to blast Weiner (I think the only reason people got upset about this is because the guy’s name is Weiner).  They thought she was going to come out with both barrels blazing.  And what happened?  She decided not to let the six-year-old American audience rule her, and talk about things that matter, like jobs, the economy, stuff like that.  Stewart asked Wallace what happened after she said that –

What did everybody do? (Stewart?)
Left (Wallace)

Stewart went on to make another REALLY good point –

The embarrassment is that I am given credibility in this world because of the disappointment that the public has in what the news media does.

Stewart went on the attack against Wallace, which was great.  It was great to listen to a guy who is openly a political satirist getting bitter and upset with being called biased.  He said that his bias first is comedy, next comes politics.  The problem with the corporate media like MSNBC, CNN, and Fox is that they go out of their way to make things exponentially bigger than they actually are.  Fox blew the Shirley Sharrod thing totally out of proportion.  Anderson Cooper on CNN has introduced stories in the most cataclysmic of tones that even his guests agree was nothing.  MSNBC has had Ed Schultz go off on tangents.  There is a reason that Rachel Maddow has such respect on that network – because she had an obsession with the fact, connecting dots, and getting the information to people.  I think she is the person who has done the least amoung of sensationalizing on MSNBC.

Stewart closed his interview stating that he has seen no significant change with how things are run in this country after the fall of this economy, which is a great point.

But the fact is that people believe that they are being given the correct news by the big corporate 24-hour networks, but they aren’t.  They are being given news that is sensational, and news that is often either blown out of proportion, or dumbed-down so that people won’t think about it too critically.  But people need to realize that that isn’t what the news is always, or in my opinion, even often, about.  There real reporters like my friend, Heather Aronno.  She did her first report on APRN today.  Here’s a link to it.  Check this it, it’s good stuff.  It’s fair reporting about a pretty nifty topic – teaching young people how filmmaking is done.  People think that all media is biased.  I agree, but not to the same extent that they believe it is biased.  I think true objective reporting isn’t possible, because nobody is completely objective, but I do also believe that the bias is not so big, and most reporters genuinely want to get all the facts, or as many as they can fit.

Peace out,

Eli

Eli’s Review: Too Big to Fail

There are certain films that are designed for an express purpose.  They want to convey a certain thought process, feeling, or reaction from the audience.  There are films like the abominations against rational thought, also known as the Twilight series, which were made for the sole purpose of making teen girls are warm for…one of the stalker guys’ forms, it could go either way.  Then there are films like The Social Network, where it wanted you to think about personal betrayal and the journey from being a nobody to having the world.  There are also films like The Sky Crawlers, which shows the rather cold world eternal warfare, and gets you to think about how pointless war is and how it inevitably doesn’t help anybody.

Good films actually require a person to think.  It is never enough, at least for this critic, to simply sit down and just start blankly at a screen and look at the pretty colors.  That was how Avatar got so many people to love it.  A story so cliche that it was beyond parody, and a vaguely racist character paradigm where the white man becomes better and being native than the natives.  But a truly great film is able to rise above that, to challenge a person’s way of thinking, and to even get them to think a little deeper about something that they hadn’t even had the courage to think about before.  It is a rare few films that truly go the distance in that category.

The film Too Big to Fail was an absolute masterpiece when it comes to getting the audience to think.  The fact that it is based on a true story make the point that it makes about society and the banking industry, and the politics of economics in this country that much more powerful and almost disturbing in parts.

A little background, this is a brand new film.  It was being shown at a meeting of the UAA College Democrats, of which I am a member.  It was shown at the home of John and Heather Aronno.  Two of the most politically active people that you will ever meet, if anybody in Anchorage has the chance.  Tonight was pretty fun, before and after the film.  But enough of the personal stuff, back to one of the most intriguing films that I have ever seen, and that is saying something.  Truthfully, it is the fact that this is based on a true story that is so powerful and so profoundly disturbing.  Truly, most Americans have no idea how close this country’s economy came to a complete meltdown.

I won’t lie, I am going to be laying out the plot of the film, but honestly, it is the delivery and the portrayal of the people who got this nation so close to disaster and then saved it that gives this film the genuine power that it has.  This film tells the story of the 2008 meltdown.  A rather interesting trick that this film uses is it combines the use of clips from actual news broadcasts with the story being played out.  The clips are used to drive home what part of the film they were talking about.  In a way, it was showing how the events that were unfolding were being shown to the people.  It almost seemed to be a mechanism to show how ignorant people in this country were of what was happening.

And the fact is that we truly were ignorant.  We have no idea how close we came to having our economy collapse.  There was a speech by Paul Giamatti’s character, Ben Bernanke, who was Chairman of the Federal Reserve, which was so powerful.  Pity I have been kind of exhausted all day, because I wish that I could remember it with clarity.  He spoke about how he had spent his entire academic time studying the Great Depression, and the writing was as clear as day to him that the country was in imminent trouble.  It couldn’t have been any better.

The fact is that every single person who was cast in this picture was brillianet.  William Hurt played Henry Paulson, the Secretary of the Treasury.  He was working with all of his might to stave off the potential disaster that was facing the country.  The efforts he was taking, and the level of committment were destroying him, on a physical as well as emotional level.  One can only imagine how stressful such a position would be in.  Plus, there was no clear solution, and everybody had their own agendas that they were playing at, which made his job even harder.  I could go through every role and how they are all perfect, but the fact is that that would take all night.  But there isn’t a single person who is miscast in this film.  It was made for HBO, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is absolutely awe-inspiring.

But the thing that truly sticks with you in this film is the fact that this kind of disaster could happen again.  The housing bubble, the very thing which caused the economic meltdown to happen in the first place (when it burst in late 2007) is back.  While it will take a lot of time to grow, the fact is that it is growing again.  Not only that, but China’s own bubble is on the verge of bursting, and that could spell a lot of trouble for this country, since we live in a global economy.  Plus, we still have the concept of Too Big to Fail in this country, which makes this even worse.  There were a series of textual epilogues that said that 10 banks now possess 77% of this entire country’s wealth.  Too Big to Fail is the understatement of the year.  We absolutely cannot afford to have these places fail on us now.  If that were to happen, I guess Bernanke and I are on the same page.  But, there seems to be no way to stop it now.

This film was powerful, and in a very profound way for me.  The fact is that it is so easy for people to just not pay attention to what is going on.  It is so easy for people to just go with the flow, but we need to pay more attention.  We need to keep tabs on what is going on, or we may start hearing about how things are getting very bad, very quickly.

Until next time, a quote,

“I don’t get it, why are we debating this? If they go down, you all will.”  -Ben Bernanke, Too Big to Fail

Peace out,

Maverick

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