Monday, May 12, 2008

Open Thread

NPR related comments welcomed.

15 comments:

War On War Off said...

Couldn't decide whether Diane Roberts' slobbery tribute to regal White House weddings was intentional self-parody or not...

big!pink!fuzzy!bunny! said...

Oops war, I missed it (natch). But sure makes me glad I did.

Mytwords said...

I think it was, but then was it funny?

Porter Melmoth said...

It's been my experience that hardly anything on NPR that tries to be funny . . . is actually funny.

I'm not a sourpuss. I like everybody from Groucho Marx to Jerry Lewis. From Buster Keaton to Lily Tomlin. From Jack Benny to Chris Rock. But I swear, that darn Naturally Prudish Radio just don't know how to do comedy.

Porter Melmoth said...

My heart goes out to the earthquake victims in China.

I had to say that first, because I just heard a very weird tape that Melissa Block made on the scene of the quake. I can only hope that she was perhaps in shock, because it was one of the strangest examples of non-reporting I've ever heard. Devoid of her usual affectations, Block was oddly detached. So weird...so weird...

big!pink!fuzzy!bunny! said...

Yeah, this morning's headlines featured her reporting from the epicenter - I was profoundly puzzled "what the bleep is she doing there?!?" And Port's right - gone was that trademark kiddy-talk.
Add to that, just a while ago on Brian Williams of all places, was aired a phone interview with Rootypoop Blobby who just happens to be stuck there too (their initial mission was to file some 'travelogue' report from someplace nobody ever heard of - to paraphrase). Shaken but not stirred, I'm sure. Don't wish them ill will, but will it be their catharsis to return as more responsible, pro-active journalists?...

Porter Melmoth said...

In her subsequent report, Block seems to have risen to the challenge of delivering a serviceable report on the Chengdu quake, (incidentally, a much better report than Siegel's). Indeed, perhaps she will transcend her on-air affectations, due to this life-changing experience.

artes moriendi said...

Melissa Block's work as a reporter has in my experience been eminently solid and competent, and entirely free of the battery of vocal tricks--affected squeaks, micro-pauses, cutesy hiccups, and affected rubato (Cathy Berberian would admire her at least from a technical standpoint)--that mars her work as ATC host. She did an admirable job on the streets of NYC after Sept. 11 and I thought her performance today entirely creditable and sound. I think she can be an excellent interviewer at times when she's relying on her reporter's instincts--tough and detached and totally unconcerned with showing the audience how empathetic and virtuous she is (Scott Simon's chief vice). I've never gotten her as ATC host, a role that seems to squelch her virtues and bring out a treacly, ersatz cheeriness and obliging dimness.

The disaster in China is indeed appalling and I thought that Block conveyed to listeners the horror and ghastliness of what has happened very capably indeed.

Mytwords said...

I found myself moved by Block's report, and thought it conveyed the awfulness she was witnessing. I can't ask much more of a reporter.

Mytwords said...

Is it just me or has the reporting from Sadr City in Baghdad been better than the usual. I've been struck by Tom Bowman's on the ground interviews and Ivan Watson's too. There seems to be a more human/humane dimension to the coverage than usual.

Porter Melmoth said...

Yes, the Iraq reports seem more grounded. Perhaps it's because NPR might actually sense change in the wind, i.e. an election year perhaps spells imminent policy shifts for an unpopular war. Plus, someone was sensible enough to get rid of (I hope) that skewed burnout Garrels and believe-everything-she's-told Tarabay, both of whom went on far too long in interpreting Iraq for American consumption.

Natural disasters and war are much bigger entities than NPR can spin in its usual style. Humility can be one of the best incentives for honest reporting. Outside of NPR's comfort zone, some of NPR's reporters might yet grasp the real world without instructions obeisant to an agenda.

War On War Off said...

Block's report really surprised me...barely even recognized her voice, small as it was. Apparently she narrowly avoided getting the "Suddenly Last Summer" treatment from an angry crowd who assumed she was there to exploit their tragedy.

"Sebastian was a poet..."

Porter Melmoth said...

I know I complain a lot about the affectations of NPR personalities, but this particular example, of Block abandoning her embellishments in the face of a huge and humbling story, is at the essence of the complaint. That is, the juiced-up, sexed-up, affected presentation of news GETS IN THE WAY of the news itself. NPR's cardinal mistake (aside from corporate mandates) was that they chose the entertainment route rather than information, while trying to do both at once.

The Chengdu quake should be a wakeup call for NPR: that you don't have to be personally involved in a story in order to cover it objectively.

"Sebastian said, 'Truth is the bottom of a bottomless well.'"

PS: If I ran the NPR circus, I'd put Block out on assignment after a thorough session of de-commissioning her 'cutes'. She'd be happier, and NPR listeners would be, too.

larry, dfh said...

Yeah, and brian williams got all choked up in NO after Katrina, but one good splash a aqua-velva and he returned to the putz he is. I'm not holding my breath.

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