Thursday, June 18, 2009


This article originally appeared in the 6.18.09 issue of Metroland

We’ve had an interesting (and inadvertent) progression at the music biz panel part of the monthly CRUMBS Night Out events. Two months ago we had the heads of a couple independent labels, and last month we had members of local music collectives. This month we’re going right down to the roots with three expert and extremely successful practitioners of home music recording. We’ve got Dan Berggren, who makes magic out of his home and taught audio engineering at Fredonia State for 25 years, Sara Ayers, whose DIY recordings have garnered her an international fanbase and lots of TV play, and Troy Pohl, who recently transitioned from making beautiful home-based recordings to making beautiful studio recordings for Collar City Records. We’ll be talking about things like maximizing what you’ve got, knowledge vs. equipment, and when it’s time to leave home. 8 PM, Thursday the 25th, Linda Norris Auditorium. Music at 7 with Eric Margan and the Red Lions, whose album Midnight Book has been turning heads and blowing minds throughout the Northeast ( myspace/theredlions ).

The epitaph for newspapers was delivered last week by, of all people, Jason Jones on the Jon Stewart show. The New York Times, incredibly, allowed Jones to interview several Times bigwigs, apparently not realizing that these things never come out well for the interviewees. And it didn’t. Sitting across a desk from assistant managing editor Rick Berke, Jones pointed to a current copy of the Times and said, “Show me one thing in there that happened today.” Berke was left speechless and yammering.

And the epitaph for the rest of the mainstream media may have been delivered last weekend, when Iran erupted into massive protests over the stolen election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Now, even from under a rock one should know that a populist protest of any magnitude in a prong of W’s “axis of evil” is big news, and that one in Iran could have major repercussions in global geopolitics. A direct line can be drawn from Obama’s Egypt speech, where he asked Muslims to reject demagogues and to embrace peace, and the Tehran protests. And the energy of the youth-driven movement that spontaneously erupted in Tehran and elsewhere last Saturday, a combination of optimism and rage, recalled nothing more than what happened right here a year ago, when America rejected the politics of fear and embraced hope.

But last weekend you’d never have known about what was happening if you were watching TV or reading the newspaper. Or even looking at Google News. As for television, CNN was oblivious, MSNBC was running those hideous inside-prison shows it seems to think people like to watch on weekends, and the networks were talking about the Palin-Letterman feud and whatever nonsense Newt Gingrich just said. The newspapers and wire services were merely parroting what governmental spokespeople were saying on both sides, as per the MSM’s maddening and insane penchant for providing “equivalence,” or uncritically stating both side’s positions, without regard to the obvious truth. Into Sunday and Monday, whatever reporting there was in the MSM severely underplayed what was going on. Most uncritically declared Ahmadinejad the winner of the election, despite growing unassailable proof that the election was a sham. Protest rallies were described as “large” or “in the thousands”, despite photographs popping up on the internet and eye-witness accounts from non-reporters that showed hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people on the streets.

Reporters were forbidden on the streets of Tehran, and the government quickly shut down cell-phone service and blocked Facebook (which is apparently wildly popular in Iran), and hacked and interfered with communications any way it could. But Twitter, YouTube, email and photograph sites like Flikr quickly emerged as effective main portals of information from and for the protesters, and in the absence of any MSM interest in reporting from these sources, it was the blogs that performed journalism, filtering the spotty information coming in on the internet, posting tweets, pictures and video, and showing the world, beyond a doubt, that Ahmadinejad and his Mullah enablers were wearing no clothes, and that, as Obama observed on Monday, “there’s something going on in Iran.” I’ve been mainly watching the blogs of The Atlantic’s Andy Sullivan and Huffington Post’s Nico Pitney. I really don’t need (or trust) anyone else.

Apologists for the MSM have tried to brush aside the lack of coverage with the lame “even reporters have to sleep sometime.” Really? But networks don’t. CNN’s supposed to give us the world, and it’s just been giving us excuses. And Nico Pitney didn’t sleep; his blog was posting 24/7 for three days straight. And Sullivan? When it was pointed out that the MSM could have simply done what he was doing, Sully pointed out that he was monitoring tweets and blogging from the end of a pier on the Cape with his two beagles at his feet. That’s his Situation Room.

And ours.


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