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Off the Media: Breaking Journalistic Boundaries

First a little fan rant.

We’ve always been avid listeners of “On the Media” (does anyone else remember the days of Alex Jonespictured — as host?), but unlike most groupies, our love is conditional.

We’re very happy they promise to make the show available by podcast at 9 on Friday nights, but hate that they often don’t keep the promise. Ditto their vow to make transcripts live by Tuesday afternoon.

Oh, and we love the archness of OTM, but also find it a little strange that they make stuff up, you know, like their hilarious but fictional NPR local station sendup. Or this bit that embellishes the Keith Olbermann-Bill O’Reilly hate-fest long before the current dustup.

Then again, we’d rather have the yucks than not. Maybe we’re just jealous that we don’t get to be that funny.

We haven’t learned to love the grindy, whiny music that starts each show and reminds us of cats mating.


But we don’t scream at the radio anymore, or gnash our teeth or claw at the shower stall door.

We do wonder why so many of their pieces are rebroadcasts. Do they not, with their two hosts and increased budget and all the media stuff around everywhere, not have enough to put together a full show every week? (Guys, need help?)

And, lest we give our obsessions short shrift, here’s our take on this week’s show:

We tried not to have the knee-journalist reaction, to New Yorker staff writer Lawrence Wright on how his movie, The Siege, was not only prescient about the state of the U.S. after a terror atack, but that he was also doing truly journalistic work for a fictional film. Fiction, it seems, lets people you’re interviewing tell the truth in ways that non-fiction doesn’t. (Reminds us of the off-planet anthropologist in Philip Jose Farmer‘s Riverworld novel who talks about reading fiction in order to understand humans because the non-fiction didn’t do as good a job of portraying what was really going on.)

Documentarian Michael Apted calls the subjects of his “Up” series — following British youth every seven years, through adulthood — “family,” and wishing, as a parent would, that he would pass away before any of them do.

Co-host Brooke Gladstone herself breaks the conceit of so-called objectivity, acknowledging in a “thanks” to Fox News on its tenth anniversary that OTM and Fox aren’t exactly dispassionate about each other. We’d love to hear them — or someone — give a concerted effort to address news chief Roger Ailes‘ and Ailes’ chief Rupert Murdoch‘s assertions that their news IS fair and balanced, and those who say “no” are conflating opinion-meisters O’Reilly et al with the news anchors like Brit Hume.

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