This started off as a response to the front page article asking for suggestions on how to handle the hacks who irresponsibly attack all things UCLA. It got too long to put in the thread, so here it is:
1. Formal: No Weenies for You
I know, I keep repeating the same theme; I've been doing it for years. But, I really think the time has come for the AD to grow a pair and refuse to sanction/grant special access to people who claim to be journalists but don't practice responsible journalism.
We don't have to grant "on field access" to anyone with a tape recorder or pencil. In fact, I'm sure we don't. What do you think would happen if one of us were to ask for access to the press box or practice fields? We probably would not get in -- even though some of us are far better and more accurate sports writers.
A free press can write whatever it wants -- and that's the way it should be. But, there is no rule that says access should be free. As reporters, we earn our access. We must show ourselves to have insight, skill and integrity.
There is more to being a member of the press than simply having a press card. In fact, in this time of "new media", in this time of egalitarian access to distribution, the mere fact that one is employed by the print media says nothing about one's qualifications -- it simply says one gets paid. Unfortunately, the print media has no problems hiring hacks.
We already limit who gets the free weenies. The policy seems to be "If you work for a newspaper or TV station, feed away."
I think it's time to change that standard. It's time to refuse free access to those whose track record makes clear that they lack the skill, responsibility and integrity to earn the label "reporter".
Are we censoring them or their papers? Not at all. they can write away. Whatever they want. As irresponsible as they want to be. BUT, they can't do it on our dime or with our blessing.
Smarmy Simers has no right to confront CRN, in our home, with his rude, irrelevant, editorial comments.
It's about time that DG stood up, not just for our coaches. players, and university BUT FOR THE PRESS. A strong stand against sloppy or biased journalism is a strong stand for the type of journalism we all want -- strong, sourced stories -- responsible stories that let the chips fall where they may.
I'm not calling for "pro-UCLA journalism". I'm calling for "real journalism". I just want accurate, meaningful reporting -- whether we look good or bad, I want a return to the type of journalism that we can all respect whether we like the stories or not.
2. Informal: Ridicule Is A Powerful Tool For Change
My life and work have been profoundly affected by the work and writings of the great community organizer, Saul Alinsky. For those of you who don't know Alinsky, may I suggest two of his books, Rules for Radicals and Reville for Racidals? I used both in my law school classrooms.
The seemingly powerless have power. And, nothing is more powerful than humor and ridicule.
The "self important" cannot stand to be laughed at. And, neither can the institutions that employ them.
It's that simple. We can write all we want here -- but we are writing to ourselves.
What we need to do is make fun of the hacks -- do it in a very public and funny way. Do it in a classy way -- with real good humor. Call attention to what buffoons they are. Those who love to cast a harsh light on others hate when the light of ridicule lands on them.
There have already been the seeds of such an attack sown in some of yesterday's threads. It may be time to hone a few of those strategies and implement them.
I've written before about one of my favorite Alinsky campaigns. It was against Kodak -- a pillar of the Rochester Community (in the same way that the fishwrap deems itself a pillar of our community.)
It seems that Kodak had trouble hiring people of color. And, Alinsky represented people of color.
Alinsky used a simple campaign, based on humor and ridicule to win a battle he could never have won with pickets and confrontation:
Kodak sponsored the much revered and honored local symphony. Every year, there was a gala kickoff concert. Patrons of the symphony, who sympathized with Alinsky's cause, donated tickets to the organizer. Alinsky let it be known that he held a sizable block of tickets, that he was going to donate them to poor people who would, thereby, be able to attend their very first concert. And, to make sure that they would not be hungry, that their stomachs would not rumble during the performance, he was going to host a big bean dinner for them. Full of beans, they'd attend with comfort and joy.
The plan was so funny that it received wide spread coverage. People were laughing at Kodak and the wealthy patrons of the arts. And, they could not stand the laughter.
The "threat" of having to sit next to gassed up "untouchables" mobilized the community and Kodak started to negotiate.
I am sure that the creative minds at BN, the great artists, and the strong story tellers, can come up with campaigns -- rooted in humor and ridicule -- that so embarrass the fishwrap, the register and those who purport to be reporters for them, that they feel like the "fools" they really are.
Ridicule is powerful. It brings about change.
Let's make fun of them. Relentless fun of them. Let's make them laughing stocks. They will change. And, even if they don't, we may have some fun of our own.