Saturday, August 26, 2006

Weekend Update - Part 2 - August 26, 2006 

Me? I'm having a great weekend... went to see some baseball today and managed to score a sweet seat behind home plate just under the broadcast booth... and my team won! Then tomorrow I head to the city to go to the museum with my friend who's visiting from Japan... Plus tomorrow night's the Emmy Awards, and some friends are coming over to watch on the big screen (too bad NBC decided not to broadcast the show in HD... maybe I could start a petition...)

On the other hand, our current Save MSNBC on XM petition efforts...? not so much... after the initial round of mentions in a few blogs, and some nasty spam and hate mail (folks angry that anyone would try to change the mind of a corporation), we had only an additional 35 signatures today for a grand total of 326... now i believe in the power of 'small numbers', and this is about 3x as many signatures as anyone expected (given the near impossibility of targeting satellite listeners through the broad nature of the internet)... but i don't think we can realistically expect to change XM's decision on the basis of a few hundred voices... in fact, given the way this has all come about, i don't think a thousand voices would make a difference... not that i'm a conspiracy theorist or believe XM should substitute my judgement for their own...

But I am touched by the thoughtful comments of almost every person who has signed the petition... Satellite radio is serving as a unique mechanism for them to become educated while being connected and once people taste knowledge they don't give it up easily... clearly MSNBC is not everyone's cup of tea, but it holds a place of honour and importance that, I think, probably surprises even the programming staff at MSNBC... read through some of the comments and you'll see what I mean, and why I'm touched and will continue to do what I can to "legally" change XM's mind.

Having said that, and realizing that new signatures are now, literally, trickling in, I've just started to make shit up... No one every got in trouble for lying to the press, right? (Especially in a campaign)... So I'm using my well-tuned bullshit skills to mix a little truth, a little crapola and a healthy scoop of absurdism into my updates... the latest update (sent at about 9pm and addressed "Good Morning") says that we now have hundreds of volunteers who are using a secret copy of the entire XM subscriber database to call every subscriber and register their unhappiness with past and current XM programming choices...

Now, apart from fact that such a guerilla tactic would be of questionable value, morally, legally and tactically (you'd probably piss off as many people as you'd get to your side), if XM has almost 7 million subscribers, and if a painter and a half can paint a wall and a half in an hour and a half, how long would it take for, let's say, 100 people to call 7 million people? (and for extra credit, how much would it cost if even 1/2 of them were in your calling circle?)

Nevertheless, within minutes of sending out this bit of silliness, i received my first legitimate response from the press (other than the email from the person at MSNBC who said that what i was writing was making them laugh) and this journalise was very unhappy that i would do such a thing, and wrote:

Don't you think this is an invasion of XM subscribers' privacy?

I would never publicize anyone using this tactic.

Take me off your mailing list

Now the first thing I thought was that i had just pissed off a friend of the cause... but when i went to their website i realized that they had published -NOTHING- about the petition or XM's decision to eliminate MSNBC... so their indignation was just more bullshit... (btw, i did write back and say that i agreed that it was an invasion of their privacy, and i respected their decision not to publicize what we were doing, etc. etc., but that i'd be happy to take their name off the list... i wonder if they'll get the joke?)

So here's my bottom line (in case anyone is actually reading this): we live in an age of rampant anti-intellectualism... where ideas are crushed under the weight of spin and soundbites substitute for discourse... MSNBC is not perfect, in any sense of the word, (Way Too Much JonBenet Ramsey this past week, Way Too Much Michael Jackson in the past...) but it does provide a home for the Olbermanns and the Matthews and the Scarboroughs and the Carlsons and others to dig, just a little deeper, than the partisan ramblings on Fox or the toothless reports on CNN (Ted Turner would be rolling in his grave if he were dead)... and as we come up on the first anniversary of Katrina and the fifth anniversary of 9/11 and the first real chance for the Democrats to take control of at least part of one branch of government for the first time in a long time (something that seems, to me, necessary for us to call ourselves a Democracy), XM has a unique power (and therefore, as spiderman would say, a unique responsibility) to increase the diversity of ideas available to their listeners by running the MSNBC lineup... when XM started they were all about taking chances and programming things you couldn't hear on AM or FM radio... but over the past 4 years that programming philosophy has changed and the company has become more risk averse, opting for the safe (Oprah) over the obscure... Now with music, if I don't like what I hear, I can always burn a CD and listen to my own mix of tunes... But I can't go out and create the news (well, not more than a little, apparently!)... and so news outlets should be held to a different standard because its the right thing to do... In the early days of broadcast journalism television didn't look at news as a profit center... they felt that news was a corporate responsibility (and gave the station some cache)... that was, i think, the right way to think about it, and XM, facing the chance, should do the right thing.

That's my point... The rest is all B.S.

I always quote the words of Angeles Arrian on my radio show... I think I'll start quoting them here... they provide a sound philosophy:

Show Up
Pay Attention
Tell The Truth
And Don't Be Attached To The Outcome

Bedtime... Peace Be With You...
Good Night

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