Friday, August 27, 2004

I Think I'm A News Junkie

I never, ever thought this would happen.



I always hated Current Events Day at school, when you had to clip some boring article out of the local paper and play "show and tell" with it. I hated the assignment in the ninth grade where we had to write about a current-events "dilemma." (I wrote about the death penalty and nearly died of boredom in the process.) (OK, so I was an apathetic teenager.) I have just never been into current events.



Now, my friend Jan enjoyed current events. And, not surprisingly, look where she is today. (Am I beaming with pride for her? Yes, I'm beaming.)



But I just didn't "get" current events. I preferred English and French classes, where I could explore language and literature--which, I self-righteously argued, lives forever--as opposed to the here-today-gone-tomorrow nature of most current events items.



So why have I become a news junkie?



Part of it is that I love the internet. I love combing the internet for the latest news. I'm not so much interested in politics as I am in "spin." I guess it has to do with my interest in writing and literature, and the many levels of communication that you can have in a piece of writing. I read opinion columns like there's no tomorrow. I go from moveon.org and salon.com to nationalreview.com and marvel at how the different worldviews shape what is written and what is believed. I do the same, to a lesser extent, with the radio, flipping from NPR to the conservative station. As soon as I feel like I can't stomach the conservative station anymore (I don't like talk radio), I switch back to NPR. (When I get sick of both, I pop in my Teaching Company lectures, but that's another story.)



It's all so fascinating. I was just thinking the other day, "Maybe I'll go back to school and write my doctoral dissertation on this kind of thing--the way the different parties use language to forward their agenda, gain power for themselves, and discredit the 'other' side."



Heck, I thought. I like to write books. Maybe I'll even write a book. There's certainly plenty to write about.



Then I found a very interesting article today about George Lakoff. I recognize that name from graduate linguistics courses. He's a cognitive linguistics prof at UC-Berkeley and has written several books on just the kind of thing that interests me--the way we use language, and how that language reflects and enforces our political, cultural, etc., worldviews. His most important and well-known book is Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think. It was required reading for the folks on Howard Dean's campaign team.



Lakoff calls himself a "progressive," which in Conservative-speak is "liberal." In this article, he talks about how to talk to conservatives ("simply confronting them with the facts won't help") (?), how to project a positive image (Focus on "strength." Remember all the talk of "strength" at the Democrat Convention?), and why the catchphrase "war on terror" wields such power.



I think I'm going to watch the Republican Convention and take notes. Deconstruct and think. Think and deconstruct. I just wish I'd thought about this for the Democrat Convention.



I was going to watch the Republicans anyway, in an effort to catch a glimpse of Jan. But now I can look for Jan and satisfy my news junkie cravings at the same time.



I can't believe I've become a news junkie. A "Law and Order" addict and a news junkie.



Sigh. It's time for a good, long hike.

7 comments:

  1. I've always wondered about the phrase, "war on terror". It's the same as "war on crime" or "war on drugs". There is no specifically named enemy (as in a particular country), so how can there be a war? When I clean my apartment (a rarity), am I conducting a war on dirt? Will I ever actually WIN this war on dirt? Will the dirt ever actually win? How can there be a war if there will never be a clear winner or loser? Just my two cents.

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  2. I don't know. I'm losing the war against dirty dishes and little black ants, so I can't say for sure.

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  3. The war on terror is about as effective as a war on dirty dishes. As long as there's food, there will be dirty dishes. As long as there are crazy zealots and hatred in the world, there will always be terrorism :(

    Sorry to get all political on your blog, Cousin Nina.

    Cousin Stacey (who thinks being a news junkie is WAY better than being a cocaine junkie!)

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  4. Awwwww shheeeeshhh, please don't get all political on me! Pretty please? Thanks! :-D

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  5. Cousin Nina:

    Between "Bridge to Terebithia," Harold & Maude, and George Lakoff/SPin, you're freaking me out. I'm studying PR & Politics in an effort to learn about spin in politics. I'm absolutely fascinated with it and planned to check out lakoff's book tomorrow after work. You should read up on Karl Rove, the ultimate spin-master... He's pure (evil) genius. I've never been very good at English or writing, but I've been able to spin since I was 6 (or so my mama sez).

    Glad to see we have another "like" in common!

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  6. All that and the same hair, too!

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