The Mainstream Media Is Starting To Win Back The Trust Of Liberals

Have a conversation with a handful of Americans and you will quickly discover that they don’t agree on much.

But as of recently, many Americans (and even foreigners) have come to the consensus that the mainstream media is failing at its job and some have gone as far as to treat it as the enemy.

Ask a conservative, and you will hear that CNN is “fake news”.

Ask a liberal, and you’ll hear that the mainstream media’s been bought out by the interests of billionaires and multinational corporations.

Ask an Israeli and she will say that the American media treats Israel as the aggressor in the Middle East.

Ask a Palestinian and he will say that the American media is far too sympathetic to Israel.

But as I thought more about this, this common narrative about the media is strikingly paradoxical.

If the mainstream media continues to write pieces and broadcast news, then it is clearly supported as a necessary and important source of information by the bulk of American society.

Yet it seems to be the easy target for all sides to pick on.

So it attempting to revise this false indictment of the media, I thought about the stated premise of the media, to report and inform the public on events as they occur.

However I realized that this simple task has often been convoluted, for two reasons.

One, because in the current political climate, the information presented by cultural and institutional authorities for the media to report out is not reflective of the truth.

In these cases, the media is left with few options, as reporting on reality is no longer consistent with reporting on the presented reality.

Secondly, the media has traditionally functioned with a certain structure that has now become particularly vulnerable to manipulation.

This has made it even more difficult to confront falsified information, a problem that has become acute as liberals attempt to confront the rhetoric and posturing of conservatives, who currently dominate the government in numbers.

Photo Credit: Esther Vargas/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Generally speaking, mainstream media rarely denies airtime to advisors in President Trump’s administration.

They are viewed as trusted authority figures that give the public greater insight into the wishes and policy positions of the president.

Perhaps Trump’s most recognized advisor, Kellyanne Conway has appeared frequently on TV to do interviews.

But she has been much more of a distraction than an illuminating agent.

She runs the clock on interviewers, speaking around criticisms of Trump.

She refuses to answer interviewers’ questions, instead, picking out a central word in the question that she can use to promote ideas that paint Trump in favorable light.

This answering structure confuses audiences, while simultaneously making it appear as if she is answering questions.

Worse of all, she has proven to lack credibility, reinterpreting and changing positions to portray a false image of Trump’s administration.

Following Kellyanne Conway’s reference to the non-existent Bowling Green Massacre, CNN placed a temporary ban on Conway, turning her down for the Sunday “State of the Union” public affairs show.

Later, they reiterated their position, citing their concerns about Conway’s credibility.

These are essential steps for the liberals and even people of all political affiliations to take to confront conservative falsehoods and distortions of the truth.

The mainstream media has also hit difficulties with the content of conservative sources.

Traditionally, representatives of the media avoid using the word “lie”.

In an enlightening article by Philip Bump, a correspondent for The Washington Post, Bump discusses the difficulties associated with confronting a lie by Donald Trump or others in his administration through the media.

First, according to Bump, reporters feel that the word “lie” carries a judgment of the intentions of the person telling the lie and because it is difficult to pin down intent, media outlets are hesitant to go as far as to call something a “lie”.

Secondly, there is a general social expectation that members of the media are polite towards their subjects of reporting, especially in person.

Asking difficult questions to reveal inconsistencies, to repeat questions that are not answered and to outright call out lies are not accepted as typically polite behavior on the part of the media, so when members of the media are confronted with falsehood and unanswered questions, push back is viewed as overly aggressive, while yielding simply allows for a reiteration of inaccurate information.

Thirdly, these media outlets want to maintain the trust of their readership and the risk of the making an accusation as strong as suggesting a person of authority is “lying” is far too great.

Even if a media outlet has concluded that something is inaccurate with the information they have access to, the cost of being wrong in light of potentially hidden information is too dangerous, as it harms the media’s reputation even further, providing more evidence to the Trump administration that the media has an anti-Trump agenda and delegitimizing its future reporting.

Hence, it is often much easier for the media to repeat what has been presented as fact instead of addressing its dissonance from truth.

However, recently, some TV hosts and journalists have begun to confront these false facts. Dan Barry of The New York Times wrote an article explaining the importance of “calling a lie a lie”.

NBC’s Chuck Todd boldly confronted Conway in interview, exclaiming that “Alternative facts are not facts, they’re falsehoods!”

This breaking from previous hesitancies has restored the trust of liberals in the role of the media, while simultaneously fueling the fire of Trump’s “fake news” claims, supported by some conservatives.

But from a more removed perspective, this newfound strategy is necessary, not just for liberals confronting conservatives through the media, but also for the sake of maintaining a basic journalistic standard.

A large part of the distrust in media originates from a casual treatment as truth as entirely relative, which fosters public ignorance and a pseudo-reality of disinformation.

The media should adhere to a far more discerning view of the truth, to preserve liberal dissent in a conservative government and to work towards a greater pursuit of truthful information, regardless its affiliation.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: hannesdesmet/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Cable News Is Dying And We Should Hope For A Swift Death

As a multimedia journalism student I should hope for the success of cable news.

After a steady decline in average viewership, the 2016 election cycle seems to have brought prime-time and overall viewership back into an upward swing.

Both revenue and newsroom spending for cable news has also steadily increased, a good sign for my personal post-graduation job prospects.

Local affiliate stations offer hyper-local news programs that provide information I’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere besides my local newspaper.

But I’m most likely to get my news online, just like 50% of my fellow millennials.

As someone who has friends and former co-workers in the cable news business, I wouldn’t wish for their stations and programs to be shut down.

But regardless of the statistics, advantages of the format and my friends in the industry, I firmly believe we’d be better off without cable news-at least in its current form.

I haven’t watched cable television since the Super Bowl and before that I only watched cable news for election night.

Most of the political coverage and debates were streamed online and I found no reason to stick around to get “expert analysis” from CNN, MSNBC or Fox News commentators.

While President Trump’s rise to power has been entertaining, his hyperbolic comments on the death of the media has fueled him and the industry he has targeted.

Still, the modern cable news program seems to serve no greater purpose than react to whatever crazy statement the Trump administration said that day.

The visual aspect of storytelling cable news used to have over newspapers and magazines has now been eclipsed by internet based news sites.

Cable news is looking as outdated as black and white in today’s world. Photo Credit: John Atherton/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Publications like Now This and TheBlaze have risen to prominence across Facebook and Twitter feeds for their easily digestible video content and controversial program hosts like Tomi Lahren.

Even the traditional cable news networks offer convenient links to the same videos and articles they talk about on television through their social media and online websites.

In a world of instant gratification through the internet, there’s simply no reason to watch cable news programs that require you to wade through the muck just to find the content you’re looking for.

One could argue that this new age of news is shortening our attention spans and encouraging the “rush to be first” breaking news mentality that stimulates inaccuracies.

But I would argue that news is headed this direction no matter what format we get our news.

The days of standardized local news “stand-up” stories and CNN pitting a panel of Trump and Clinton supporters against each other has done nothing but push me away.

I’m annoyed and exhausted with news programs that are driven through controversy for the sake of profits and attracting advertisers.

In an ideal world, I see the media being funded on a subscription basis, one that would allow the stories to be told without the outside influence of ads and sponsored products in-between every story.

Platforms like already provide a way for me to directly fund entertainment and programs I enjoy, while also giving me the power to influence the type of stories and content my favorite creators make.

This subscription based funding of media doesn’t facilitate a bright future for cable news, but then again neither does our current path of news digestion.

A 9-year-old with a smartphone and Facebook live can be considered a journalist.

Youtubers and vloggers can accrue larger daily audiences than many cable news programs.

Whether this is good or bad for the industry as a whole is a matter of perspective.

From my perspective, despite recent increases in viewership, cable news is on the way out.

Once the presidency of Donald Trump ends, cable news will become stale and ratings will settle into another plateau before declining again.

The journalism industry as a whole and those who engage in the content produced from it would be better off if the death of cable news was expedited.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Steven Depolo/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Why America Really Needs A New “West Wing”

As chaos, deceit and lies are engulfing the White house, the sanctum sanctorum of American democracy; I find myself increasingly pining for the “cartoonishly optimistic” days of the Bartlet administration on my TV screen.

I watch the reruns of West Wing with a sense of nostalgia, where the White House staffers would do the “walk and talk” with charge, meet at the Oval Office with a distinguished President, and give press briefings that were transparent and not a battle ground for the war against media.

Watching West Wing nowadays is painful.

The Trump administration has destroyed the prestige of working at the White House.

The well- beloved CJ Cregg, who was known for her astute mind and performance of “The Jackal”, has been replaced in reality with the aggressive and dull Sean Spicer, whose lexicon leaves a lot to be desired.

Leo McGarry, the man who always stood behind President Bartlet, who always viewed everything with benevolent pragmatism, has been replaced with Reince Preibus, a man who believes that defensiveness is the shield that he must carry and not necessarily political acumen or sensitivity.

It is almost like the Trump administration is trying to be the total opposite of what idealists loved about West Wing.

For almost a decade Aaron Sorkin’s West Wing mesmerized the American psyche; depicting American democracy’s morals, values and diplomatic stance in the world, albeit with a few instances of infamy, all along having a scholarly president at the helm of affairs.

With his penchant for classical music, literature and finer sensibilities in life, President Bartlet and his team exuded a sense of fairness, liberalism and intellectualism that acted as a panacea for the troubled times of the Bush administration.

The fictitious West Wing gave all Democrats a ray of hope.

Sam, we need you right now.

The President’s failure to disclose his physical ailment was tantamount to a big scandal!

It would probably hardly earn a mention when compared to the missteps of Trump and his team.

What do we do now?

The country is split along party lines.

The chaos is palpable.

Intellectualism has been relegated to a secondary place.

The disregard for traditional institutions of democracy, including its fourth pillar known as the free press, is too blatant.

We need an escape from reality.

This time, we need an even bigger flight of imagination.

At the same time however, something too idealistic might be painful to watch amidst a sense of crumbling political values and lack of accountability displayed by the current administration.

We need a show that encompasses “American values”, one that believes in intellectualism, respect and equality and yet portrays the reality with sincerity.

In the last season of West Wing, Republican nominee Arnold Vinick and Democratic nominee Matt Santos were fighting for the presidency.

Their election season was intense, their campaigns were on full throttle; but throughout the entire political discourse they remained civil.

Do you remember when we thought this was a tough debate?

They fought on the basis of substantive arguments, not through personal attacks and the spread of abhorrent lies.

In fact, both candidates found mud-slinging repulsive, and they never launched any attacks that would defame their opponent.

Granted that at the end of the day, this election wasn’t real, and these campaigns were all part of Aaron Sorkin and Lawrence O’Donnell’s imagination, but they remind us that civility is not unnatural, that it should be the norm.

Shows such as Scandal and Designated Survivor do an excellent job in commanding the attention of their audience for the allotted one hour block they are given, but they are meant to act as a source of excitement and drama.

Scandal is a somewhat dystopian depiction of the White House, where corruption, bribery and murders are rampant.

It’s a political drama in some aspects, but it doesn’t do the job of alleviating the nerves of those who are already flustered by the Trump Administration.

I personally love West Wing.

The fast paced dialogue, sharp analysis and wit of the show are all very addictive.

There are days when I watch four episodes in a row, just to soak up the intense and realistic depiction of what goes on in the White House.

West Wing is unique because it shows the camaraderie of Presidents and political leaders despite partisanship and politics.

It romanticizes the White House and its occupants.

When the reality is filled with mundanity and crudity and when there is an obvious attempt at breaking away even from the age old tradition of honoring one’s predecessor; the only escape can come from the TV screen, when we can turn off CNN and indulge in the pure extravaganza of wishful thinking!

The country deserves and needs an updated, idealistic, version of this show so we can all make it through the next four years.

So help us Aaron Sorkin, you’re our only hope.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Why the Olympics Has The Worst Ratings in Years

By Melissa Davidson

Unless Bob Costas gets pink eye again, is there anything that can save NBC’s ratings and coverage of the Olympic games in Rio thus far?

Opening ceremony TV views were less than steller – down 35% among all viewers from London’s opener four years ago.

The following night fared only slightly better, down about 28% from London but still at a 20-year low, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Ratings are starting to see an upswing as American men and women sweep swimming medals and magical gymnast Simone Biles continues to shine. Total viewing data, including digital formats, will be available later this week, NBC promises.

Time will tell, but the way millennials are viewing sports, including the Olympics, is changing with the times.

Let’s look at the trends to see why.

1) Social media and livestream

What catches the eye throughout the day on Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat, may determine if you tune into watch the Olympics on TV. Seeing something on social media influences one’s decision to tune in.

Now, after reading about #PhelpsFace on Facebook, I really want to see him win the 200-meter butterfly because it would prove his shade is justified.

NBC’s livestream multicast has taken some of the audience away, but TV is still king with 60% of consumers saying they will watch the games on TV.


Photo Credit: Jorge Andrade/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

However, several millennial friends of mine say watching coverage on TV is plain “annoying” with all the commercials and weird commentary from old men who just don’t get it.

It’s great that NBC is optimizing with mobile devices, even if the set-up isn’t flawless.

You can watch video with the NBC app without having to listen to Olympic commentators, whose words really rub some people the wrong way.

2) Traditional cable and video

To back up the claim that millennials are seeking out videos instead of traditional television and cable, a study found that young people are into YouTube celebrities just as much as traditional TV celebrities.

As for sports, the study found that millennials are more accustomed to seeking influencers on YouTube and Facebook than from ESPN.

ESPN – either the cable channel or the app – is still the place to go for 25- to-34-year-olds: 58% list ESPN as their resource for sports-related video content, followed by Facebook at 52%.

Among younger people, 13- to 24-year olds, YouTube gets 64%, Facebook with 53% and ESPN just 42%.

Interestingly, 4% of this younger group discover sports videos by looking to experts like sports pundits and analysts.

3) NBC strategy

Creating strong, positive, emotional reactions to a product fosters the desire to remain loyal to a brand over a long period of time.

But if the brand isn’t delivering, my word-of-mouth promotion isn’t going to be great, and I’m not likely to return in the future.

That’s marketing 101 and the reason why location and relationship are marketing buzzwords in 2016.

Some people are loyal to the “packaged” programming that NBC says the majority of the viewing public prefers over the actual, live competition.

I read a story recently in the Humanist, written by a millennial, who says she loves the inspirational stories that are rolled into a couple of weeks of programming.

Photo Credit: Jorge Andrade/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Photo Credit: Jorge Andrade/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

I’ve also spoken with friends who say they don’t care for the “soft-focused story aspect of competitions” and simply want to see the games.

These opinions align with a piece written by columnist Sally Jenkins in the Washington Post that says NBC’s packaging of the Olympics is an insult to viewers and the athletes themselves.

“Even if you buy NBC’s argument that the majority of the public prefers edited, packaged programming over the vagaries of live sports competition, then ask yourself this question: Why aren’t NFL football telecasts tape delayed and packaged? Why don’t the networks delay and collapse the games in favor of sugary features showing childhood films of the Manning brothers on a swing set instead of wasting viewer’s time with a penalty-filled second quarter?”

“The fact is, no network would do that. Why? Because the networks assign a dignity and an import to a live NFL game that they don’t to women’s gymnastics.”

4) Women ‘do’ sports

Most of the money and attention spent on sports and athletes is directed at men, both at the professional and amateur levels.

Of the 150 million NFL fans, 45% are women and over one-third of viewers are women. Women on Team USA make up 53%.

A lot of American women are going to bring home medals. In fact, the women’s gymnastics squad just won the team All-Around Gold Medal for the second consecutive Olympics.

And because so many women watch sports on TV, NBC broadcasters need to stop with comments like “the man responsible” for Hungarian swimmer Katinka Hosszu’s world record in the 400-meter individual medley is her husband/coach.

The current strategy of NBC Olympic coverage isn’t winning over the public.

What if the execs listened to what the customer wants to see and how they want to see it?

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Jorge Andrade/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Over 50,000 People Want To Remove Tomi Lahren From The Blaze

Tomi Lahren, the controversial millennial shock jock who is always all over your Facebook feed seems to have a whole bunch of folks who don’t like her.

Over 53 thousand people have signed a petition calling for Lahren to be removed from Glenn Beck’s Blaze television network because of her habit of being wrong and intellectually lazy.

“Everyone has a voice and an opinion,” the petition reads. “However, when the wrong voice is given a platform and is allowed to influence an audience of millions by perpetuating derogatory ideology toward select groups of individuals, this is where the injustice lies.  Tomi Lahren (although her words are laden with passion and emotion) lacks the knowledge and experience to effectively communicate and facilitate.”

The petition campaign was created by a man named Cameron Tendaji and it has gained traction on social media.

“As a millennial in these “progressive” times, Tomi Lahren should be allowing safe spaces for all audiences,” The petition reads. “Instead, she attacks minority groups, fabricates historical “facts”, and is grossly misinformed on political topics.”

Lahren is pretty flawed as a media figure.

She has little experience and has been a darling of the right-wing since her schtick of attacking progressives started a couple of years ago.

She is a bomb thrower of the Rush Limbaugh variety and has almost no journalistic credibility.

Some of her commentary is borderline racist and almost always unfair.

However, should she really be silenced just because we disagree with her?

Is it really the job of media to create “safe spaces”?

Isn’t the role of media to stir the pot and chafe for change while identifying uncomfortable facts?

Just a thought.

Anyway, if the folks supporting this petition get their way then Lahren will soon be silenced.

“Tom [sic] Lahren’s hate speech against minority groups will no longer be tolerated,” the petition reads. “She will learn that although we have freedom of speech, there is no freedom from consequences. This may not solve the main issue; however, great things have small beginnings.”

But instead of removing Lahren, shouldn’t we just create a better alternative to her?

Stay tuned RISE NEWS readers, stay tuned.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Miami TV: How Jenny Scordamaglia Used Her Body To Build A Media Empire

Miami is no stranger to pristine beaches, deep glowing suntans and beautiful, mostly half-naked people doing all kinds of things in public.

But one of the most interesting things to come out of this milieu is MiamiTV, an international online and television show based out of the city which was founded in 2007.

The show is described as an “entertainment channel covering the best events, festivals, parties around the world” on the show’s Facebook page.

With nearly 7,200 likes on their Facebook page, the show seems to be gaining popularity.

The popularity could largely be accredited to the show’s main host, Jenny Scordamaglia, who has had a history of hosting nearly 200 shows.

While being an engaging and interesting personality, the other thing the sets Scordamaglia apart from the bunch is that she is willing to broadcast in the buff, or at least close to it. 

She has helped build a sizable media brand by as the Miami New Times described it, perfecting the “nip-slip”.

As Terrence McCoy wrote for the New Times in 2014:

“The nip slip is the defining element of her on-camera presence. In appearance after appearance, she moves through gaggles of gawking bystanders, microphone in hand, nipples flashing like lighthouses in the night.”


Jenny Scordamaglia in the middle of conducting an interview for Miami TV. Photo Credit: Miami TV/ Facebook

But while some may find that distasteful, Scordamaglia is unfazed by the type of content her company produces.

“Unlike most media, Miami TV focuses on real life people and events live as they happen, no script, no cuts, edits or blurs,” Scordamaglia told RISE NEWS in an interview. “The shows are done spontaneous at the moment with a refreshing reality of what would happen if the viewer is there as well. We focus in bringing viewers positive entertainment so that they can distress from their everyday stress and the negative news on TV.”

The show is close to her heart, being that it was a creation between her husband and herself.

“My husband and I built this 8 years ago and made it our dream work, which for us it’s really not work, it’s a hobby because we love what we do, we love communicating with people around the world and bringing a smile to their face,” Scordamaglia said. 

While being based out of Miami, the show reaches an international audience, with audience members in places like Spain, Mexico and Colombia. The show went international after experiencing local success in November 2009. 

WATCH: Miami TV In Action

The production team, along with producing MiamiTV, also hosts other shows, including Hoy Miami, Miami Caliente and Jenny Live, according to the main show website.

The experiences gained by Scordamaglia have stayed with her for the nearly eight years she’s been on the air.

“While I attending a business event in Miami a couple of years ago where without getting into names, a surrounding local Mayor was there and we weren’t filming, also my dress code was more business attire at that event,” Scordamaglia recalls. “When this person comes close to me and says ‘What happened to the real Jenny, where’s the cleavage?,’ smiling. So I then knew, we had made a signature image for Miami TV and had to keep it.”

Jenny Scordamaglia. Photo Credit: Miami TV/ Facebook

Jenny Scordamaglia in the midst of a “nip slip” moment during an interview. Photo Credit: Miami TV/ Facebook

As the show continued to gain traction and popularity, Scordamaglia kept giving what her audience wanted. 

“We had made 727 studio shows where people can interact live via a chat and give their opinions on the life subject we are speaking about,” Scordamaglia said. “This is our audience’s favorite show, they like to interact, they like to be heard and responded to, but we like to also balance it with over 600 outdoor events we have covered.”

Scordamaglia believes that the audience makes the show, and hopes to continue to grow her brand. Whatever that happens to be. 

“To me, it’s imminent to listen to our viewers because they made us grow and we keep attracting new viewers daily,” Scordamaglia said. “We don’t want to become just another corporation, we want to continue to keep it real and the comments that move me the most can be as simple as those that say thank you for brightening up my day, to some deeper life changing stories.”

So there you have it. The most Miami media company ever is actually doing pretty well and they don’t seem to care what the haters think.

——Here’s Something Completely Different: ——

The TV Weatherman Who Is Trying To Save Miami From Drowning

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Dashed Dreams: How My “Audition” For A Reality Show Opened Up My Eyes To The Fleeting Fame Of The Genre

We are all inherently narcissistic whether we choose to admit it or not.

The appeal of being famous has crossed our minds, especially mine.

I can remember the first time I saw MTV’s The Real World when I was about 8 years old. At that age, I thought it was a cool idea to be on television and live in Hawaii.

And as I got older, my understanding of the concept of the show, as well as the growing scope of reality television made me think I would be great for reality television.

The realm of reality television is so vast from reality competition programs (i.e. The Bachelor, Survivor) to reality social experiments (i.e. Big Brother, The Real World) to reality docu-dramas (Sister Wives, The Real Housewives) and a mix between reality and scripted (i.e. The Hills, Duck Dynasty).

Lastly, there’s the celebrity driven reality show documenting any given celebrity train wreck (i.e. Lindsay Lohan). You name it, I’ve watched it, binged it, digested them all. I’ve also learned from my countless hours of viewing what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to being on reality television.

When I finally turned 18 years old, the floodgates of reality television applications opened. The possibilities were endless. As I said in the beginning of the story, I was fascinated by The Real World.

I told everyone and anyone that I was going to be on the show. I even won “Most Dramatic” during my senior superlatives.

I had the bumper sticker hanging on my wall at home that said “what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real?” (A phrase from the opening sequence of the show.)

The stars should have aligned right?

I should also note that I take the Jeopardy online test at least once a year, in hopes of winning some big money. Unfortunately I have never gotten past the initial test. I’ll enjoy sitting at home shouting out both incorrect and correct answers from the comfort of my couch, much to the amusement of my girlfriend.

Every season I would fill out my application and hear nothing. I googled casting tips (prior to the ease of access of Twitter and Reddit), then moved my stalking to Twitter for any tidbits from former castmastes, production company employees, even going as far as engaging in borderline harassment to get their attention.

I was a man possessed by a dream.

I was a man possessed by a dream.

I took it another step further and drove two hours to casting calls in hopes of being discovered. That didn’t work out as I had hoped.

I was not going to give up though.

As we entered the Spring of 2014, a new opportunity to apply for the next season arose and a a chance of turning nothing into something was mine.

For three days, I sat and contemplated what I wanted my application to say.

This was my first impression, and I wanted to make it count. With the rise of Vine and Instagram and these “instant-fame” outlets, it was becoming harder and harder to stand out and be unique.

I also knew that as a loyal viewer of the show that I needed to have a voice. One that was definitely out front and center. After a lot of internalization and mini panic attacks, I finally clicked submit and awaited my fate.

Two weeks later I received the most incredible e-mail I thought I could ever receive.

Having received what I assumed was my own version of the “Golden Ticket,” I drove two hours to the casting to what turned out to be the most shoddy and poorly run event I had ever been to.

The “VIP” wasn’t VIP at all. I had to wait around just like everyone else did who walked in off the street. I wasn’t given any preferential treatment. I was treated like a regular person. It was extremely disappointing.

Yes, I was guaranteed to go into the casting room, but it was in a large group setting with 10 other people and they ask you ONE question. In what world does that mean VIP?

Sitting there in that group interview listening to people talk about their strained relationships, drug and alcohol addictions, lavish lifestyles (and how they got them) made me realize I’M TOO NORMAL for reality television.

Reality TV is a rotten industry and it isn't getting any better as social media continues to mature. Photo Credit: Mario Goebbels/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Reality TV is a rotten industry and it isn’t getting any better as social media continues to mature. Photo Credit: Mario Goebbels/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Reality television is an abyss that sucks it’s cast members and spits them out at a rapid pace. Look at any of The Real Housewives.

Over the course of numerous locales and countless replaceable women, their relationships with their loved ones soured and ended, they file for bankruptcy, get bad plastic surgery, and the list goes on and on.

The most infamous reality television contestant, Richard Hatch, was sentenced to federal prison on tax evasion.

These of course are the most dramatic and most noteworthy of what life is like after reality television.  Look at the girls on America’s Next Top Model for instance; did any of them truly become household names? The Bachelor and Bachelorette contestants vie for the opportunity to be the next man or woman looking for love and maybe a summer in a nice house to win some money by being awful human beings.

The cast of Big Brother and Survivor, two staples of the 2000s, have seen their fair share of racists, bigots and homophobes.

If you were to search for any of the cast members from any MTV or ABC reality show on social media, their accounts are filled with them posing for cheesy selfies hocking whatever product they’re getting paid to advertise, or their promoting bar and club appearances.

Many go back to their real lives, the ones they left prior to their television debuts, hoping their time on television doesn’t come back to haunt them.

The most glaring issue with reality television is that it gives people a false sense of security.

For the viewers, it’s an escape from their daily lives by watching other people ruin their own, while those on the programs we watch are hoping to change their lives financially by participating on these shows. They don’t often consider the long-term effects of their appearance.

For better or for worse, reality television will continue to be around, but the men and women who grace our screens will be scratching to extend their 15 minutes of fame. A fame I no longer find desirable, especially if I need to make a mockery of myself to attain it.

The actress Meagan Good said it best: “make sure your desire to do what you’re aspiring to do is deeper than just fame and being a celebrity.”

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. Anyone can write for you us as long as you are fiercely interested in making the world a better place. 

Cover Photo Credit: Justin March/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

In 2010 Interview With High School Student, Dan Le Batard Predicted What It Would Take To Go National. It Actually Happened.

This story was originally published in 2015. 

Dan Le Batard has swiftly become one of the best known figures in sports media- and that’s a surprise for the unabashedly provincial man who claims to have never loved a place as much as Miami, Florida.

Today Le Batard’s ESPN radio show moves to one of it’s prime time slots – 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The slot was previously held by Colin Cowherd.

The time shift is just the latest peak in the fast growth of Le Batard’s empire. He also hosts a daily television show on ESPN with Bomani Jones and Gonzalo “Papi” Le Batard (his father) called Highly Questionable.

His radio program is also simulcast on Fusion, the Miami-based cable television network geared towards millennials.

Only a few years ago, things were pretty different for Le Batard. Back in February of 2010, I was a junior in high school and a writer for my school’s paper.

While brainstorming in the office of the Lions’ Print- really just a computer lab on the second floor of Chaminade-Madonna College Prep in Hollywood, Florida, I pitched the idea of interviewing Le Batard.

He was one of the best known alums of the school despite being a bit of a mystery to the folks in the development office (They didn’t understand why he wasn’t more involved in the school’s culture.)

Le Batard and his artist brother David (better known as LEBO) were well remembered by some faculty at the school, but few students, outside of the hardcore sports fans had ever heard of Dan.

2010 Question: Would you ever want to have your own TV show?

Le Batard: maybe….eventually….if they let me do it the way we do radio, which is sloppy and would be anti-tv

I was a huge fan of Le Batard and his local radio program, and had been since it came on the air in 2004.

Le Batard and his cohost Jon “Stugotz” Weiner were unique, and even the 12 year-old-sports fan in me could appreciate that.

Over the next six years, I spent hundreds of hours listening to the show, and it helped push me to be a broadcaster and a journalist.

Many other young people in South Florida had a similar experience.

Miami sports talk had been stale and old and musty and angry for decades.

Then, seemingly out of the blue, one Miami homer and another recovering New York sports cliché machine entered the scene and changed the game forever.

Fast forward back to 2010.

After months of searching, I was finally able to find an email that reached him (I’m not sure how much of this had to do with my inexperience in my fledgling journalistic career.)

We started a short email correspondence – he was short but pleasant and willing to answer a few questions.

What follows is that original email chain, unedited.

I find it interesting anyway, because it highlights how quickly things can change in life.

Q) Where were you born and raised, and did your early years have an affect on why you became a journalist/radio host? 

Le Batard: Born in Jersey City, NJ…Came here at four….Growing up here made me want to become, from a very early age, South Florida’s sports voice….I had no national aspirations….I just wanted to talk about sports in our market

Q) You went to Chaminade High School, so why did you go there, and what were you involved in as a student? (Clubs, etc..)

Le Batard: Key Club….Speech Club…..High school newspaper….So long ago….Hard to remember….Was more involved in my church youth group…..

Q) You also went to the University of Miami and wrote for the “Miami Hurricane” during the time when Miami was really the swaggering, non apologetic, badasses that we all love. Why do you think that period and those teams where so important for the city? What is your fondest memory of this time?

Le Batard: They didn’t lose a home game the entire time I was in school….I just loved being that close to something so edgy….You could feel at the time that those teams were doing something different….I was very lucky to have UM get relevant and controversial in football when I started there….

Q)After UM, where did you work? 

Le Batard: Worked at The Herald and interned at the LA Times

Q) What is the worst story that you had to cover as a “grunt” at the Herald? 

Le Batard: Starting out, before The Herald, I had to cover city-council meetings about sewage for The River Cities Gazette, a community weekly….

Q) How did you get into radio? 

Le Batard: was a guest on espn radio every sunday….then they gave me the show….so i was doing national radio from my house, with my dog barking on sunday mornings, on an isdn line….funny….more than 200 radio stations….then they called locally from 790, and it made sense and sounded fun as a career transition

Q) How did the “Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz” come about?

Le Batard: Stugotz called and asked if I wanted to do shows with Boog Sciambi….Boog couldn’t do it right away….So I did it with Stugotz….It was truly terrible….But we figured it out….Now it is slightly less terrible

Q) Why do you hate standard sports talk radio, with clichés and all?

Le Batard: Just boring to me….Outgrew it….And very little truth in most of what I hear….Too much is just uninformed, dataless gibberish

Q) Who is the most fascinating person that you have met or interviewed? 

Le Batard: Such a hard question….The most consistently introspective and interesting is Pat Riley….That’s in sports, and doesn’t include Muhammad Ali, who had lost most of his ability to speak by the time I met him…..You asking me for most consistently interesting person or most interesting journey/story?…..Because I gravitate toward the ones close to my heart (Cuban) and the different guys (Ricky Williams, John Amaechi, Terrell Owens, Barry Bonds, Trace Armstrong)

Q) Your show is very funny. Is this by design or is it a by product of the fact that you just hate the norms of how radio has been done? 

Le Batard: There is very little design with our show….Nothing worse than trying to be funny and failing so we don’t try to be funny….I like to laugh, and I think a million things that happen in sports are laughable….But all I’m trying to do is entertain myself…..

Q) How did you become a personality on ESPN?

Le Batard: ESPN realized early that sportswriters make cheap programming….That we are informed, because we learned as reporters, not just as gasbags (we became gasbags later in life, with the help of TV)….We had to ask questions and be curious and inform ourselves, and we had opinions that were informed when asked difficult questions on the spot….So when that movement started, in the 1990s, I was one of the guys who was known in writing circles as having opinions, and ESPN wanted me also to write for their magazine, which was starting, so we merged the two….they gave me tv, and i gave them writing

Q) Really, the only show on ESPN that seems to be similar to you in your beliefs and outlook is “Pardon the Interruption.” Is this a coincidence? 

Le Batard: Not at all….They started it….I followed….they taught me to mock myself….and i loved what they had behind the scenes there, a bunch of friends helping each other and laughing….when i got back from washington, i said i wanted something like that for myself in miami….so we created the radio show, working with and for my friends

Q) Would you ever want to have your own TV show?

Le Batard: maybe….eventually….if they let me do it the way we do radio, which is sloppy and would be anti-tv

Q) Why do you stay in the Miami/South Florida Market? You would never do a national show?

Le Batard: family here….this is only place that matters to me….that’s why i haven’t done in national tv on my own yet….every offer wants me in la or nyc and i’m not leaving here

Q) Why do you think people pretend to be outraged by the whole steroids scandal?

Le Batard: i don’t think they are anymore….i think they are numb….the media keeps it an issue, too late, but i’ve never seen more of a disconnect between a story the media thinks is important and fans really don’t….

Q) Would you be surprised if anyone in baseball today was doing steroids? Take Derek Jeter or Cal Ripen Jr. for example.

Le Batard: never mind baseball….i wouldn’t be surprised by anyone in sports doing it… helps heal….and they all need healing

Q) Who is your favorite journalist or radio host?

Le Batard: i like so many…..gary smith of sports illustrated…..scott price……michael lewis…..scott raab of esquire….charles pierce….too many to name

Q) If you weren’t in media, what would you be doing?

Le Batard: I’d be a psychologist or therapist

Q) Who or whom do you attribute your success to? 

Le Batard: Parents….Dad gave me work ethic and Mom gave me everything else

Q) Is Bristol Connecticut really that bad?

Le Batard: yes

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