With the new year upon us, there are a few media items I feel I must get past so that I can celebrate.
Like many guys, I mark the start of the new year on the first weekend of college football. After that, it doesn't matter if it's still 100 degrees or if the monsoon humidity makes us all look like oarsmen in Ben-Hur. It's football season! And after that, it's basketball season! My 9 1/2-month year goes until the end of the NBA playoffs, and then I slip into a timeless limbo, like General Zod and those two other knuckleheads (Ursa and Non).
Anyway, with apologies to John Schuster, who does a bang-up job on Media Watch elsewhere in this publication, I have some media complaints.
• On KOLD Channel 13 the other night, Sonu Wasu was doing a piece on young people who were brought to this country illegally by their parents, and who are now applying to stay in the United States thanks to a change in immigration-policy focus by the Obama administration. She, like many journalists, uses the shorthand term DREAMers to refer to this diverse group, which is wrong in more ways than one.
First off, the DREAM Act has not been passed and probably won't be anytime soon. (Then there is the insane idea that going to college is the equivalent of serving one's adopted country in the military.) Plus, there are probably a whole lot of people in that group who don't want to go to college or go into the military.
The use of the term DREAMers is understandable, if not entirely accurate. But as the report continued, Wasu referred to the people in her report as "undocumented citizens." When she said it the first time, I did a double-take and thought maybe I had heard it wrong. But then she said it again.
What the hell is an "undocumented citizen?!" Is that like a skinny fat guy?
Look, I'm 100 percent in favor of what the Obama administration is doing in this case. These people were brought here as children, and for many, it is the only country they've ever known. However, the fact remains that the reason the administration had to make this move is because, under the current law of the land, these people are not citizens of the United States.
(For future reference, a citizen is defined as "a legally recognized subject or national of a state or commonwealth, either native or naturalized.")
I understand the significance of semantics in public discourse. I remember when we were having the national abortion debate (the first time). People in favor of abortion rights didn't want to refer to themselves as "pro-abortion," because "abortion" is such a charged term, so they came up with pro-choice. And the anti-abortion people didn't want to be anti- something, so they came up with pro-life.
There was a debate on TV, and the person who was on the pro-abortion side was obviously so concerned about using the term that she referred to people on the other side as "anti-pro-choice." That's the verbal equivalent of running around one's backhand in tennis, leaving the entire court open to an easy return volley.
If Wasu's ridiculous use of "undocumented citizen" has somebody like me wanting to tear out the few remaining hairs from my head, what must it do to people on the other side of the political divide? These people already believe that there is a liberal media bias. There is no need to pour gasoline on that fire.
• Did the people at the Arizona Daily Star do a focus group and come to the conclusion that its readers suddenly got dumber? Or are they under the thrall of a mad graphic designer? Those few hundred of us who still get the print version of the Star have probably noticed that the paper's editors have, quite annoyingly, begun to boldface the names of people in the articles, as though we are unable to grasp the notion that these are people about whom the articles are being written. It looks stupid; make it stop.
I'm not one of those who gloat over the fate of the Star. I've been reading it for decades. Call me crazy, but I think that a vibrant daily newspaper is vital to a strong democracy. I realize that the Star, like many papers around the country, has been pummeled by the forces of changing technology. Plus, the paper's parent company has administered a whole bunch of self-inflicted wounds. But I don't want it to go away.
Neither do I want it to continue to try to chase me away. Along with the aforementioned (boldface) fourth-grade-level approach to its readers, there are the full-page ads that stick out beyond the normal width of the paper. Guess who doesn't look at those? I understand that advertising is essential to a newspaper's success. Just don't beat me over the head with it.
• Does it surprise anybody that KNST AM 790/FM 97.1, the radio station with the eminently unlikable lineup of Garret Lewis, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck, is adding the Dallas Cowboys to its lineup? What makes it really bad is that the Cowboys are so lousy that you can't even hate them anymore. They just suck; it's like picking on the handicapped.