Saturday, August 27, 2011

August 21: Rebels Enter Tripoli. CNN Yawns (in which I attempt to intervene in the course of world affairs—or at least, journalism)

A week ago, I, like most politically engaged (or even just curious) people, was trying to follow the drama of the Libyan revolution. It had been a complex series of events and choices: had NATO intervened too late? would an essentially directionless US policy lead to that worst of all possible worlds: a prolonged intervention that nonetheless failed to remove Gadhafi? Then, suddenly, things seemed to change, and our hopes rose again: the rebels were advancing rapidly, as Gadhafi's forces fell back or melted away, much as in Iraq nearly a decade earlier.

I was following events on Twitter, which I generally find the most convenient means of keeping track of breaking news (we all were pretty sure that Osama bin Laden was dead some 45 minutes before President Obama went on the air to announce that fact). Twitter via Tweetdeck is convenient because I can either focus on it or let in run in the background and watch the pop-up notifications in order to see what deserves more urgent attention. Some of the Tweeps I was following were in Libya or neighboring countries. Others were simply following live coverage via Sky News or Al Jazeera (English or Arabic).

I kept looking for similarly current coverage from US news sources. No luck.  I then left my desk, walked to the other room, and turned on the tv to CNN. Surely, the first 24-hour-a-day international news station would have something to report. Wait, what? They were running features on Washington, DC's local "go-go" music style and Casey Anthony's probation appearance for check fraud. In my desperation, I even clicked down one channel to Fox, which, it turned out, was doing a sensationalistic (or was it: human interest?) story about the baby stroller in the back of the pickup truck.

I finally lost it. In a controlled rage (sort of like a low boil), I decided to use CNN's "iReport" hotline.

Got the automated menu and pressed "1."
An anodyne female voice welcomed and thanked me at once, and asked how she could direct my call.

I said, with as straight a face and serious a voice as possible, that, while they were showing junk segments about DC music and Casey Anthony, something important seemed to be going on in Libya.

No reaction. Was she as clueless as she appeared (what? me, follow the news?) or consummately professional? You be the judge. At any rate, without skipping a beat, she thanked me again in her Stepford-wife voice and said she would transfer my call to the appropriate extension.

I got another one of those menus. I was warned that this call was only for serious breaking news stories, and that obscenity was forbidden or discouraged (I forget which), etc. etc.

Again, mustering straightest face and most serious but deadpan voice, I said: Uh, there seems to be some kind of revolution going on in Libya—and you know, you might want to start covering it.

There. I had done my duty (and prevented a possible heart attack).

Perhaps it was probably only coincidence, but moments later, CNN switched to dedicated coverage of the rebel entry into Tripoli and the taking of Green Square.

Oh: If you ever get the urge: "Please contact 404.827.1500 and select option 1, or text CNN (space) and your news tip to 772937"

1 comment:

SnoopyTheGoon said...

You cannot deny the utmost importance of Casey Anthony's probation appearance. Or could you?

But this aside, your courage in calling the Establishment and fighting through the answering system is highly admirable. Many a lesser man would have retreated long before the first answer...