projects about teaching blog subdivided dean terry

alt7 : culture, media, politics, technology, edited by Dean Terry

September 25, 2005

Out of Gas, Into the Darkness

An emptiness crept northward up the state from Houston in advance of Hurricane Rita evacuees last week. It spread like blood leaching from veins.

People are starting, ever so slightly at this point, to panic about gasoline. But filling up should be the least of their concerns. Modernity is kept alit by the fumes of a funeral.

On Friday night at stations all around my area fueling stations were being emptied. With a quarter of refining capacity for the U.S. near the gulf area currently closed, people are trying to fill up. Rarely used covers and makeshift plastic bags hide pump handles at most stations. When the juice is gone, the machinery of society stops right where it is. People are left camping along the interstate and stuck in their far-flung suburban homes, powerless in even more ways than they were before the cord was cut.

A huge city of oil and pesticide and haphazard zoning was evacuated. An Escalade, the emblem of American gigantism, still sits empty along I-45. Its shininess is a loud reminder of inward looking selfishness and an outward insult. It is starving for fossil fuels. Carcasses. Decay. How very prestigious.

That god-damned spiraling red satellite image that dominated all media this past week has seared itself into our minds along with the watery horror of Katrina. Words like "monster" bring back all the midnight spooks of childhood. Base fears that are raw and instinctual.

And when we needed him most, daddy left us abandoned. The hand of government - supposedly benevolent - left us to starve, drown, and prey on each other in New Orleans. And now it feigns competence and caring while maintaining an excellent haircut and looking for openings to enable policies paid for by campaign contributors. Vouchers. Tax Cuts.

The thing is, there is a darkness out there, just below the human crust of pavement and progress. Black and sticky it is. But when the drug is gone and the syringe goes dry, a panicky withdrawal sets in. A twitchy nervousness looks for a fix, but it's not there.

It's in Saudi Arabia. And it’s running out.

It's time to be scared of the dark again.


Posted by Dean Terry at 10:48 AM Comments & Permalink (0)

September 03, 2005

Katrina's Citizen Journalists

A sample of emails posted on CNN's site and labeled as "citizen journalism"

As a European watching in horror the evolving and increasing chaos in the American South, I find it well nigh impossible to believe the lack of civic responsibility evidenced by this disaster....While racism is ostensibly banned and frowned upon amongst your nation, this is surely economic cleansing where ethnic cleansing would be generally reckoned to be unacceptable? I'm not surprised that anarchy and armed looting has started in the face of such desperate conditions as these people have been abandoned in. Oh America, this is your shame -- please learn from it that everyone deserves care and dignity.
Fiona / London, UK

...I have this to say to President Bush, if you can't get those poor souls at the convention center just one canteen of water you might as well go back on vacation.
Elie / Moreno Valley, California

I am shocked to see the level of slowness of the help provided. Coming from a third world country without the resources of USA, I have seen my country handling situations much better in extreme floods which are very common. Example of armed forces pressed into service immediately, air dropping food and water, ensuring security are the first things that one does...I cannot understand why it took 4 days to provide food and water at the Superdome and the convention center when we knew from beforehand that people shall move there. Communication failure is no excuse.
Rohit / Wisconsin

I am furious that our president is thinking about Trent Lott's house while thousands of people are stranded, dying, and waiting for help in New Orleans....
Jay / New York

How repulsive can the 'lack of real response to these desperate needy storm survivors in New Orleans and throughout the Gulf Coast States' become! And to presently watch the president of the United States and two Republican governors turn this into a "photo-op" on the fifth day, literally, reassuring and patting one another on the back in front of running cameras" ... was really, quite frankly, a repulsive display.
Greta / Reno, Nevada

None of these are really citizen journalism in any precise sense, but it doesn't matter. The thing is, they are authentic. That's what it's all about. Conventional journalism is compromised by it's profit motive and hampered by "professional practices" that are founded on myths and incorrect assumptions. Authentic voices are what is needed - personal voices that cut through corporate, journalistic, and marketing speak.

I'd rather listen to someone who is authentic but mostly wrong that someone who is inauthentic and mostly right. Substitute "wrong" and "right" for "uniformed" and "informed" and we'll be getting somewhere. The informed authentic voice is the future of meaningful communications.


Posted by Dean Terry at 04:09 PM Comments & Permalink (0)




This month's book