A Tale of Two Narratives

One issue I have had with the modern 24/7 news cycle is the slow infection of personal politics into what are intended to be news stories. Make no mistake, I fully accept that every reporter is entitled to their opinion and view of events. But when that viewpoint colours a story, and pushes an agenda, that is where I take exception.

Today, let us look at two stories done about #GamerGate-related panels at SXSW, written by one Omar L. Gallaga for 512Tech.com, a subsite of My Statesman from Cox Media Group. We’ll also take into account the writer’s Twitter account, as it does play a part in all of this.

The first article, “Big ideas, but too few ears to hear them at SXSW Online Harassment Summit,” reads like a fairly straight piece of news. It also has a fairly well produced video accompanying it. It’s message: “Online harassment is alive, and not enough people know.” Well, online harassment specifically of women, of course.

This is a narrative we’ve seen so very often done online. Will someone please just think of all those helpless women out there in the first world nations? Just imagine all those daily micro-aggressions they must endure while sipping on overpriced coffee and snapping selfies on iPhones. Why, if it wasn’t for the vast amount of money they can make by claiming their victim status, it would hardly be worth it.

The truth is a much harder thing to face. There isn’t some form of invisible oppression in the first world. Not every gender studies grad is entitled to make as much as a STEM scientist. The world is a tough place, and this generation is soft.

The truth is that men actually face more harassment than women. The truth is that the narrative is just being used to shield individuals from criticism, to derail any real progress. And this story simply apes that.

It hits all the points, from the emotional video trying to bypass facts with feelings, to how it makes out how brave these heroic women are. It looms the threat of violence over the proceedings, when the truth is that there has not been a single incident of real life violence at any similar talk or event. Trump rallies have seen more violence at any single event than all of these progressive events combined.

Overall, though, the tone is respectful. The issues taken seriously. And then we have the other side of the coin.

SXSW harassment dumpster fire concludes, for now, with poorly attended ‘SavePoint’ panel”, a title you’d likely find on some tabloid blog rather than a serious news site, sets the tone for the companion piece. Overall, the piece is dismissive, feigning surprise that the event didn’t devolve into some kind of brawl or have some form of violence. It misses the point of the panel, thinking it would focus on violence rather than ethics. And, of course, it openly mocks it at points, with so many terms in quotes you’d think someone’s keyboard broke while entering it.

But there is a deeper irony here. It comes from the reporter, and apparently his boss, via Twitter. Omar was tweeting during the event, likely because he wasn’t overly interested in taking notes or paying much attention to how journalists should provide less biased coverage. In fact, one tweet did make me laugh upon reading these two articles:

http://archive.is/Sd6Cq

Reading over these two articles, as well as the feed from this individual, you can see he has an obvious bias toward his coverage of the #SavePoint panel, posting several tweets openly laughing at the panel.

Meanwhile, his tweets about the harassment panel seem almost reverent in comparison

So, it’s obvious this man’s opinion is that the #SavePoint panel is a waste of time, yet the harassment summit, which the panel was blocked from, was one of the “important ones.” After seeing these, how do those articles look now? Is someone’s political leanings showing?

Of course, it gets better once someone calls him on this, and the response from “his boss” comes in.

Yes, the literal version of this meme just happened. A supposedly professional editor just jumped into a Twitter conversation offering to “meet IRL” with a random account online, one whose user doesn’t even live in the area.

Apparently, trolling comments are fine when made by their reporters, but heaven forbid you dare call them unprofessional, or accuse them of lying. This is the quality of media today, little more than bloggers with a domain name.

Since the story was published with the title intact, one expects “his boss” is fine with Omar writing like Perez Hilton. Had I not seen his other piece, I’d assume him to just write editorials for the site. But, I suppose that is the quality of journalism you can expect from My Statesman, or at least the 512 subsite.

I suppose I should contact the main site, see if their boss takes professionalism as lightly as this editor does. That’s a story for another day, though. Also, for 512Tech’s editor, I’m afraid that I, too, do not live in Austin, TX. So sadly I can’t take your kind offer to come around to your office to see what type of office such an upstanding organization as yours has.