February 20, 2019 | 27° F

'Fill in the blanks' journalism

I have been reading the newspaper a lot lately, and an important story that may not have garnered as much attention as the protests in Egypt, the Super Bowl or Lindsay Lohan's apparent penchant for grand theft is the _______ (adjective) _______ (event) in _______ (country). The press has barely covered the story, with The New York Times running a blurb below the fold and The Wall Street Journal banishing the news to its iPad-only edition. Washington's _______ (adjective) stance on the event, though, has been lauded by some pundits and denounced by others. Crying, Glenn Beck promptly responded with the following quote: "America was founded on the ideals of _______ and _______ (patriotic nouns). Today, President Barack Obama _______ (past-tense verb) the American people yet again." For once, TV personality Keith Olbermann said nothing.

Quickly, _______ (world organization), _______ (non-profit) and _______ (little-league baseball team) issued statements of _______ (feeling) regarding the event. Countless foreign governments have voiced concern as well. Even _______ (celebrity) appeared publicly, wearing a _______ (article of clothing) to address the issue. But the White House has only said one word on the matter. As Press Secretary Robert Gibbs's snow-filled commute prevented him from making the 10 a.m. press conference Friday morning, former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel stormed the pressroom and shrieked, "_______!" (expletive) to quiet the crowd of eager journalists. Needless to say this tested Obama's recent desertion of tobacco products, but he did have this to say: "It's trying times like these when it's imperative that we recall the words of the late, great _______ (historical figure), who said, ‘A _______ (adjective) person is both _______ (adverb) _______ (adjective) and _______ (adverb) _______ (adjective), but must never, ever _______ (verb) in the face of _______ (noun).'"

It is important, however, to reflect on why the _______ (event) ever happened in the first place and how the American press depicted it. In recent years, countless _______ (group of people) have been publicly and unsympathetically engaging in _______ (noun with -ism). Just like Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi's novel, "A Shore Thing," this is both _______ (adjective) and _______ (adjective) for American culture, but not many people see it this way. In fact, few people cared at all about the issue until recently. To me, this is a perfect example of the _______ (state of mind) of modern American society. It is truly a shame, but nobody _______ (verb ending in -s) anymore. And the media is to blame. For example, the network's top story yesterday recounted surprising news from the Oscars. The Best _______ (movie-related job) nomination went to, among others, _______ (washed-up celebrity), who was quick to _______ (verb) the news while sipping on _______ (drink) in a _______ (city) bar. Is this the kind of news we need?

What I am trying to suggest is a decline in the quality of American journalism. It is always either _______ or _______ (pair of opposites), but never reaches a happy medium. _______ (famous author) would scoff at the front page of any contemporary newspaper, and rightly so. American dailies lack the _______ (good quality) they once boasted, and the wit and sense of their writers has long since dwindled. The intelligentsia has lost its voice. The era of William F. Buckley and _______ (cartoon character) is over. These days, newspapers and headline-driven television programs care more about _______ (plural noun) than appealing to a loyal demographic of ______ (group of people). But the whims of the greedy do not _______ (transitive verb) the desire of the people.

I am not alone in this sentiment. Famous people of all stripes have been vocal about this heated issue. Just last week _______ (musician) released a contentious track entitled, "I _______ (verb) the Morning Paper." Al Roker was heard uttering, "I _______ (verb) my job." Even retired medical practitioner, Dr. Seuss, noted in a recent interview, "I oft refuse the daily news / it's _______ and _______ (rhyming adjectives) and of no use."

TV tickers and Facebook statuses deliver us our news in such a hurried and slapdash way that "news" has gradually become less intriguing, pertinent and new. We might as well be filling in the blanks ourselves. But journalism is no easy job, and not everybody agrees with how I have depicted the problem. That is to say, I have my fair share of detractors. Critics of my writing have said, for example, that I lack _______ (quality), which I maintain is absolutely _______ (true/false). They have also said I am an opportunist, that my writing benefits from the misfortunes of others. To this I can only say one thing: when life hands you lemons, make _______ (noun).

Joe Hernandez is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in English and Spanish. His column "The Soapbox," runs on alternate Thursdays.

Joe Hernandez

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