Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Am I a bad citizen or are you a bad journalist?

I�ve never been good about following the news. In fifth grade we did Current Events as a fun weekly project � we each brought in an article or notes on a news report and we split into teams of about five and did a �news broadcast.� We were given preparation time and did commercials as well as presenting our stories. It was�okay.

For almost two years I worked for USA Today. I was an assistant in the Advertising Sales department, and part of my job was to read the paper every morning. Well � sort of. Technically, what was expected of me was to flip through the paper and look at the ads that my sales reps had sold, to make sure they looked good. But they said that they were paying me to read the paper, so sometimes I did.

On September 11, 2001, I was sent home at about 10:00 Chicago time. I (and my roommate) watched CNN for approximately nine hours that day. I haven�t read a newspaper since, and I rarely watch the news. Oh, sure, I read the headlines when I had free access to the paper, but I didn�t want to know anything further.

Recently, I�ve started watching the news on television more often. It�s nice to have something in the background while I unpack, and I wish to be better informed. My news show of choice is the ABC 7 News � not necessarily because it�s better than the other news programs (I wouldn�t know) but because we don�t have cable and ABC gets the best reception.

I am going all to pieces over this business with Iraq. My primary issue is that it is, apparently, impossible to become an informed citizen. All day every day all I hear is, �Coming up on Eyewitness News at eleven, the latest on the Showdown with Iraq.� The what, now? It is my impression that G.W. is insistent that we will go to war, troops have been sent over in droves, celebrities are protesting, and the U.N. is insisting that weapons inspections continue and war be a last resort.

This cannot be the whole story.

On Friday, I saw part of the live coverage of the U.N. Security Council thingy. (See? �Thingy.� I am not well-informed.) Colin Powell, who if I�m not mistaken is the Secretary of State, and therefore a Major Player, stated that we (America, I assume) will only use war as a last resort, but that it must be a resort and we must be prepared. Now that sounds intelligent to me, but it contradicts everything I�ve heard from the President. Is this because G.W. is taking a more pro-war stance, or has the news been only showing the more impassioned portions of his speeches? Are we backing down because we don�t have the support of the U.N.? And why, for the love of whomever, would we declare imminent war before having the U.N.�s approval? Doesn�t that make the whole concept of the U.N. obsolete?

I am not necessarily opposed to war. I believe that Saddam Hussein is a Bad Man. The best article I ever read in The New Yorker was about the Kurds. I understand what a threat the Iraqi government is � in the Middle East. I understand that it is the custom of the U.S. to interfere � I mean help - in situations like this, but why now?

I swear, if I hear the words Showdown with Iraq once more without further explanation, I will scream. (People of Koreatown, fetch your earplugs.)

In other news,

Will�s mysterious errand on Friday was to Polkadots and Moonbeams, one of our favorite shops, where he bought me a beautiful necklace.