Friday Q&A: Riley Curry, A Journalist Union, Toxic Avenger

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Friday Q&A returns from its brief hiatus, with a rather interesting set of questions. It’s certainly one of the more diverse Q&As hosted in this site’s brief history.

If you would like your question answered, or at least addressed, tweet @cfbhuddle or @kensing45, or email publisher@cfbhuddle.com.

Gawker’s transparent consideration of and debate about unionizing was certainly fascinating, and important for the journalism industry. I don’t know if the decision to unionize is necessary landmark, but we need to have more discussion on how to fix the industry, and the first step is finding some kind of leverage for reporters.

A union may or may not be the answer. One challenge there is that other professions with prominent unions — police, firefighters, teachers — are all careers that require certification. The very foundation of American journalism is that anyone can be a journalist, and state-issued credentials undermines the “watch-dog” principles of the industry.

Organizations would thus need to sign on as union employers, a la the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. But given how prevalent hiring of unpaid content producers already is, I don’t know how many outlets are going to voluntarily agree to doing away with free, or basically free labor.

Hardly a week passes in which we don’t see headlines about layoffs in media. Journalists and editors are increasingly treated as expendable, meanwhile mergers and closures leave fewer outlets for these professionals to ply their craft.

I’m a staunch believer that the more reputable outlets there are for news, the better it is for society. That goes well beyond the realm of sports journalism, long nicknamed “the toy department” of news. A monopoly on information is dangerous.

Also dangerous, though, are unchecked people who behave recklessly with the goal of harming others, and do so under the guise of journalism. That’s why I add the qualifier “reputable,” and to that end, we need more outlets with oversight, or at least people with journalism experience in leadership roles.

Consumer demand is the industry’s best bet for long-term change. Readers are consuming more information than ever before, so there is a demand. Now, sports journalism is inherently the junk food of news, but even the junk food has become junkier. You can only eat so many $1 menu hamburgers before you start crave some broccoli.

As soon as readers start rebuffing the format of 100-word intro –> embedded tweet –> 50 word outro asking for comments and offering no real substance, outlets will re-emphasize originality and depth.

Gawker’s union may or may not work, but at least it’s bringing this issue into the forefront of discussion.

Ah, speaking of junk food news: the Patriots’ deflated ball “scandal.” The money dumped into investigating is a drop in the bucket for the behemoth that is the NFL, and that in and of itself speaks to #FirstWorldProblems.

The NFL has so much money in part because it’s managed to weave into American culture, and has done so by dominating conversation. The conspiracy theorist in me believes the timing of the investigation’s release was calculated: following the draft, in what would otherwise be the league’s slowest news period until July, and coinciding with the Stanley Cup and NBA Playoffs.

That we have so much time and energy to devote to football is peak First World Problems. Complaints over Riley Curry are a bit different in that they’re less reflective of where we’re at as a society than the attention paid to the deflation investigation, and more reflective on the entitlement a small handful of people have.

I was blown away when I read the first complaints about Riley Curry. Frankly, as a writer, something so unique should give a reporter an angle to work. And even if he/she…let’s be honest, it’s only “he’s” complaining here…even if he doesn’t want to incorporate Riley in the story, at least have the empathy to think maybe Steph Curry wants to spend as much time with his daughter as he can before jetting off to Houston.

Are you kidding me? Improved, no question. New York City long had Spider-Man (or Sgt. Kabukiman NYPD if you follow Troma canon) fighting for it, but who was looking out for the people on the other side?

Toxie is New Jersey’s first — and as far as I know, only — superhero, standing up for the Garden State’s little people. The Toxic Avenger portrays New Jersey in a more favorable light than The Sopranos.

To that end, I have long been a proponent of Rutgers football embracing Toxie as a sort of secondary mascot, or at least celebrity superfan. The late James Gandolfini, a Rutgers alum, was prominently featured on the sidelines of Scarlet Knights games and in television promos for tickets. And he portrayed a villain! Toxie is a hero.

Now, you may ask, doesn’t the portrayal of Tromaville’s mayor as a corrupt politician allowing toxic waste dumping in his city for kickbacks and funding local crime make New Jersey look bad? To that I say

chris-christie-weight-loss-surgery

Ultimately, however, it’s fiction — Troma-produced fiction, at that. If you’re making your assessments of the world based on Troma movies, you need help. Well, except me; I feel pretty good about my decision to move to California based on watching Surf Nazis Must Die.