News, lies and fake news

It’s a pretty wild time to be a journalist, heck, seems like wild times for all of us in this country these days. What I am learning – and seeing – in ways I didn’t before is the change in media literacy in our society.

I have people, in casual conversation, tell me about something outrageous they saw on TV or Facebook. “How can the media do that?” Or, “Reporters are terrible because…”

I go and find out what they are talking about and it is either A) straight up opinion or commentary (aka not journalism that is reported, fact-checked, etc.) or B) the garden variety fake news click-bait shit.

When I try to explain those nuances, to people I consider decently well-informed and capable of critical thinking…I get crickets.

Media is media is media. TMZ = New York Times = Joe the blogger = fake Twitter account = responsible journalist = responsible blogger.

Which is like saying fast food = home cooked meals from Mom = going to a 5-star restaurant.

Some of these things are truly not like the other.

But for some reason, the swamp is all the swamp. Media this and that.

As always, there are great journalists, mediocre ones, terrible ones who mean well, and straight up bustas. Like any profession.

Unfortunately, the stakes are always higher for us, because poor journalism can hurt people, start rumors, damage lives and institutions. And it can take down corruption, save lives, enlighten and be a force for good when done well by strong practitioners.

But the swamp has all of these journalistic creatures living in it these days, and I am getting tired of the poisonous snakes ruining it for all of us. I tell my students at Michigan State, who also see this and are getting concerned, that the only way we win the war of credibility is by witnessing and being the truth. No short-cuts, no trolling, no clickbait.

Hopefully they carry that with them into the real world, and the rest of the community will take a finer-tune on what they consume and judge it harder.

A new approach…

Been answering a lot of reader email (and if I have not gotten back to you yet, I am working on it – 500-plus to get through!) regarding my story in The New York Times on Michigan and Michigan State having neurologists on their football sidelines.

A few things I wanted to add/discuss, because as always, a writer never has enough space 🙂

– Drs. Kaufman (MSU) and Kutcher (UM) are not just for the football program. They see all the athletes at their universities. There are 900 at Michigan, and 800 at Michigan State, and a lot of the other sports, such as wrestling, basketball, volleyball, etc. can lead to concussions too.

– Some readers have questioned if the Drs. are really allowed to make their own diagnoses, even it it means taking a star player out of action. From what I was told by everybody, from the athletic directors, coaches, to the neurologists, the process seems clean. If somebody is hurt, they’re not going back in. The brain is more precious than a game.

– Why don’t more schools do this? Every athletic program has their own protocols, so just because they don’t have a neurologist on the sideline does not mean they aren’t taking care of their players. A lot use referrals out to neurologists from their primary care docs.

Busy bee time…

Back in the saddle, or should I say, the command and control center for writing. Lucky to be busy, thrilled to be back. Fun to come back to journalism after being away for my Knight-Wallace sabbatical. I feel calmer, more thoughtful about my writing. We shall see how long that lasts in the face of cruel deadlines!

Here’s what I’ve been up to:

for, the official website of the U.S. Olympic Committee:

– a story on four-time Olympian Troy Dumais, who still loves diving at 33.

– teen diver Steele Johnson doesn’t leave a minute to waste – or unfilmed. Check out his world.

for the NY Times:

– a look at the rise of NHL players hailing from Switzerland. More cowbell anyone?

Happy holidays!

Hey everybody –

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving and are preparing well for the upcoming holiday season. This is always one of my favorite times of the year. I am a huge sucker for Christmas lights. I will not be a sucker for all the sweets and Christmas cookies this year. I promise.

Finally working my way back into good shape to play tennis and tackle all the things I want to do/try. It takes time to get back to yourself from ACL surgery and rehab. They tell you that, you believe them, but you have no clue what it really means. I was told, at the World Cup this summer in Germany, by a player that she felt she was 100 percent herself about 18-20 months after surgery. And you know what, I think she’s right.

In the meantime, I am doing all my stretches and cardio to kick my butt into shape. It’s actually fun to work out, because you know the alternative of not being able to move 🙂

So I have been busy, continuing to write for the NY Times, contribute as an editor for espnW, and do some fun things for Go check them out.

In the meantime….go get on Santa’s nice list, if you’re not there already!!!

Thanks and love!