Monday, October 30, 2017

Spotlights shine on 'ugly' side of Hollywood

While much attention has been focused on Washington D.C. and the happenings in and around the Trump White House, Hollywood has "stolen" the spotlight the past week.


Instead of shining a light on the glamorous "La La Land" of Hollywood, this scandal is as ugly and messy as they come. The downfall of movie executive Harvey Weinstein has been swift and unparalleled as more than 50 actresses and others in the industry have come forward with allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct.


Their stories hearken back to "Old" Hollywood, when the studios ruled the movie industry, and women were poorly treated. More recently, actresses and women in behind-the-scenes roles have lobbied for equal pay to their male counterparts, with varying results and criticism. That some of these same actresses are speaking out shows that, finally, someone is listening. That includes the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which had the good sense to expel Weinstein.


Still, it does seem shocking in a year that has seemingly seen progress - finally - as minorities were honored at both the Oscars and Emmys for stories that highlighted and embraced diversity - that Weinstein's and other male industry figures' indiscretions are only now coming to light.


Be it due to sheer number of women who have come forward and with how serious the allegations are, that Weinstein wasn't able to skate by with an apology, and has had few allies defend him.


The fallout has expanded beyond a male movie exec abusing an actress. Actor Anthony Rapp ("Star Trek: Discovery") leveled allegations of sexual misconduct against "House of Cards" star Kevin Spacey. The result? Spacey has admitted to having past relationships with both men and women (in the immortal words of Ellen DeGeneres - almost - "yep, he's gay"). It's too bad Spacey wasn't comfortable enough with this truth to reveal it before he had to use it as a defense. Netflix responded to the allegations by announcing that "House of Cards" would basically be canceled.


Where does Hollywood go from here? Those spotlights will shine bright no matter what, but the knocking down of "House of Cards" is just the latest and certainly not the last downfall.

Friday, September 29, 2017

To Take The Knee or not, that is the question

I've been contemplating this blog post for what seems like an eternity. I wanted to address the #TakeTheKnee controversy, but I'm sure like many Americans, I am torn over how I feel about it.


On one hand, the journalist in me says that it's OK for NFL players, celebrities, or whomever to take a knee to protest police brutality and racial issues. On the other hand, the American in me wants to yell out, "that's great that you want to take a stand (well, knee) on this topic, but isn't there a better forum you could do it in?"


From talking to a few co-workers, the message that the protest isn't against the flag or American military and veterans is lost on them. They are dismayed by the whole #TakeTheKnee movement, and find it offensive.


President Donald Trump's tweeting about it didn't help the situation (per normal), but the issue of protesting via sports goes back decades and is nothing new.


Some NFL teams stayed in the locker room during the anthem. Players from other teams intertwined arms to show support for their teammates who taking a knee. But NASCAR offers a whole other issue. I read a blog post a couple of days ago, and with apologies to the author as I couldn't find it again to give proper credit, but he brought up the fact that some NASCAR fans still fly the Confederate flag at races.


This is nothing new and is not isolated to the south. You'll see at least one or two Confederate flags at Kansas Speedway each race. So what does it say that the fan flying the Confederate flag is all hot and bothered that an NFL player would take a knee in silent protest during the playing of the National Anthem?


Once again, we are faced with no easy answers and America seems to be more deeply divided each day. This weekend, NASCAR is racing at Dover International Speedway in Delaware, site of the sport's first races post-9/11. We had just been through one of the most devastating events in our nation's history. Yet we all came together. We were even rooting for the Yankees for Pete's sake!


So how do we return to that "one nation" feeling and attitude? By God, it better not take another 9/11 to make it happen.


Again, I don't have the answers, just more questions. But my sincere hope is that Americans always have the option to #TakeTheKnee or peacefully protest and speak their minds. The message is getting lost in this protest, which is a shame. We'll just have to wait to see how this one plays out, I guess.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Support Harvey victims; flooding worst kind of natural disaster

Charlottesville.


Houston.


Both were the recent scene of disasters. In Charlottesville, we saw the worst of humanity.


In Houston, we've seen the worst of Mother Nature, but the best of humanity.


Neighbors, strangers and volunteers have all come together to rescue those in need. Across the country, donations have poured in and money pledged to help those in need.


If you haven't experienced a flood, it's the worst kind of disaster. I covered the Flood of '93 as a young reporter in central Missouri. Our county was bordered on two sides by the Missouri River, which flooded to more than a mile wide in places after weeks of rain both upstream and locally. In 2011, I was the website editor for my hometown newspaper, again helping cover the flooded Missouri River. This time, we didn't flood because of excess rain, we flooded because the Corps of Engineers had to release water upstream to protect massive reservoirs filled by snowmelt.


I say it's the worst kind because it lingers. A hurricane or tornado blows through the area, but you can begin the cleanup within a day or so. The same is true of a fire, earthquake or ice storm. But a flood will be around for weeks or even months, as we experienced in Missouri. Saline County was on the "high" side of the river; most of the flooding affected our neighboring counties. But there were still plenty of places where our side of the river was low enough that homes were flooded.


There were still other issues, though, as our towns lost their water supplies and were cut off as roads were closed. Only one Missouri River bridge, Interstate 70 not far from Columbia, was open.


While we are all thinking about Houston now, we need to remember them in one month, two months, six months. The impact of flooding from Hurricane Harvey will still be there. Hopefully the wave of humanity and aid will still be there, too.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Keep on tweeting, Mr. President

It's been another interesting week in the White House. While President Donald Trump maintains that there was no "WH chaos," it seems that may not have been the case.


On Monday, Anthony "The Mooch" Scaramucci was let go as Trump's Communications Director. The amusing -- or is it disturbing -- fact is that Scaramucci's official start date wasn't until Aug. 15. He didn't even make it to August.


On Tuesday, there has been more discussion about whether or not Trump should be controlling his own Twitter account.


His response, via Twitter:


Only the Fake News Media and Trump enemies want me to stop using Social Media (110 million people). Only way for me to get the truth out!


It's quite sad that the President of the United States actually believes this. But, my response is a resounding please, please keep tweeting, simply because Trump's tweets are way too entertaining and even informative to go away.


Saturday Night Live agrees. The Summer Edition of "Weekend Update" premieres Thursday, Aug. 10. There was so much going on that Colin Jost and Michael Che are returning early to ensure that we don't have to wait for the fall season to return for someone to poke fun at all of the WH hijinks.


Cheers and enjoy!





Sunday, July 2, 2017

Here we go again. One has to wonder what the true agenda of President Donald J. Trump really is these days. On Sunday, July 2, Trump tweeted an edited video of an old world wrestling clip of himself beating up some guy. Instead of seeing the guy's face, his head has been replaced with a CNN logo.


So let me get this straight. Recently, comedian Kathy Griffin was maligned and lost several jobs because she had a photo showing a "decapitated" Trump. Yet Trump posts a video of himself pummeling "CNN" and that's OK? I think not.


One of the president's other tweets this week drew my interest:


"My use of social media is not Presidential - it's MODERN DAY PRESIDENTIAL. Make America Great Again!"


My first thought is that there's nothing presidential about Trump's social media habits, speeches or almost anything that's, well, presidential that he does. This whole episode remined of a season one "Game of Thrones" scene. King Robert strikes his wife, Queen Cersei, for speaking out against him. He then makes the statement that striking a women isn't "kingly."


Most of Trump tweets and sometimes says doesn't seem "presidential." I was curious how the dictionary definition of presidential actually reads, and merriam-webster.com did not disappoint. There is an entire web page on the term. It's worth a visit, considering Trump's own definition.


With his ongoing attacks on the media, and his overuse of the hashtag #fakenews, one wonders where we will be in six months, two years and during Trump's reelection campaign. I'm almost afraid to go there.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

It's been another week of WTH - what the heck - on social media in America.


First, we had #covfefe from @realDonaldTrump on May 31. There were plenty of speculations and interpretations to the meaning of the phrase President Trump originally tweeted "Despite the constant negative press covfefe."


The next day, Hillary Clinton responded that "People in covfefe houses shouldn't throw covfefe."


Then, comedienne Kathy Griffin posted a photo holding a mock severed head belonging to Trump. I will agree that I was offended by this, it went too far, especially considering the president still has a pre-teen son.


Griffin paid the price despite apologizing as CNN cut ties with her.


Next? President Trump wants to pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement, which the U.S. entered on an executive order last year from then-President Barack Obama. However, as the U.S. has to wait until 2020 to official withdraw, the next presidential election could take place before then.


After that, unfortunately, came the latest round of terror attacks in London. While there were plenty of tweets and messages being sent to social media in support of London, I was surprised to see many tweets stating that sending those sentiments isn't enough, and real action is needed. I was also relieved to see that NFPW's own Cynthia Price returned safely from her trip to London despite the terror attacks ... and that she was looking forward to her next trip to the UK.


But then, Vice President Mike Pence announced here in Iowa that President Trump is more concerned about "Des Moines than Denmark." While I'm suitably impressed by that as our little flyover state is usually ignored except every four years at the special political event known as the Iowa Caucus, I think it's incumbent of our administration to be concerned about everywhere.


What will happen next? Goodness only knows. I did see something on Twitter (my source for all things lately, it seems) that made perfect sense. This isn't an exact quote, but the sentiment is there: why do we always say for someone to rest in peace; shouldn't the thought be for us all to live in peace?

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

I am still riding the "high" from a productive (and fun, of course!) NFPW Spring Board Meeting held this past weekend in Richmond, Va.


We talked during the meeting, which includes both the Executive Board and Appointed Board, about how we gain so much momentum at our spring meeting and fall conference meetings, and then after a flourish of productivity, become stagnant.


How do we avoid that? I don't have the answer, but our goal is to sustain the momentum through the 2017 NFPW Communications Conference in Birmingham, Ala.


How can you help? If you have ideas for NFPW or your affiliate, please share them! We are always looking for fresh concepts and strategies for our organization. Email me at marshatres@gmail.com. I'd love to hear from you!


We are also always looking for talent! We need help with Social Media, Membership, website content and more. Let us know if you can lend a hand!



Monday, April 3, 2017

I am constantly amazed at the perception those outside the communications or media industries have of those who work in them.


While my "day" job is outside of that realm and has been for five years, I am still part of the media world thanks to my Iowa Press Women and National Federation of Press Women involvement.


It's interesting to hear my co-workers and non-industry friends talk about #fakenews and other media happenings.


I'll often relate something I spotted on Twitter during our lunch break, and we'll discuss its relevance or irrelevance. It's no surprise many of these events involve the White House or government officials. I remind my colleagues that without the media, government could run unchecked.


Another way to put it - think of all the shenanigans that we aren't hearing about - based on those we are clued into. Telling a reporter not to shake her head at a response to a question? #ohnoyoudidnot
But sadly, this did happen.


Hopefully it won't happen again.



Thursday, March 2, 2017

Mark your calendars for Sunshine Week 2017

This may be the most important Sunshine Week ever! Mark your calendars for March 12-18, 2017.
Begging her forgiveness, I'm going to share what my fellow Marsha had to say. Marsha Shuler is the co-director of the National Federation of Press Women's First Amendment Network and is also a former NFPW president.


I couldn't summarize  the history and meaning of Sunshine Week any better myself, so I'm letting our expert do the "talking" (thank you Marsha!):


It's time to observe "Sunshine Week."

March 12-18 is the annual national celebration of access to public information sponsored by the American Society of News Editors and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. Knowledge is power and access to public records is critical to the democracy we so cherish.

So it is during this week the NFPW leadership team encourages members to do their part in stressing the importance of government openness and accountability through opinion columns, letters to the editor, staging events such as panel discussions and workshops about the latest developments in freedom of information resources and what threats exist today to public access to information important to people's lives and their communities.

The week coincides with the March 16 birthday of U.S. President James Madison, an architect of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights who championed the First Amendment.

Madison said: “A popular government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy; or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”

Marsha also sent me this item about another important event:

April has a notable day as well as April 2 is International Fact-Checking Day. International Fact-Checking Day is coordinated by the International Fact-Checking Network in partnership with fact-checking organizations around the world. The International Fact-Checking Network, launched in September 2015 is a forum for fact-checkers worldwide hosted by the Poynter Institute for Media Studies. It has some suggestions for activities - among them a "factcheckathon" exhorting readers to flag fake stories on Facebook and a "hoax off" among top debunked claims.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

There's a new circus in town



The recent announcement that The Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus was shutting down after nearly 150 years was met mostly with applause by observers, indicating the time for a traveling roadshow and spectacle had passed.


One of the best tweets I saw said that it was OK for Ringling to close down as there's a new circus in town - Washington, D.C. - to be specific.


This tweet came before the Inauguration and President Donald J. Trump's first two weeks in office. Since then, here's the Trump presidency via hashtag:


#AlternativeFacts
#WomensMarch
#MuslimBan
#NoWallNoBan
#DeleteUber
#SallyYatesIsMyHero


Those are only a few of the top trending hashtags. To say these past two weeks have been polarizing is an understatement. We've had millions of women marching around the world, and for some reason, having to justify or explain why, repeatedly.


Then, thousands of Americans showed up at airports to protest the #Muslim ban.


If you're pleased with Trump's presidential performance, that's fine. If you're not, like many others, it's heartening to see Americans standing up not only for their rights, but for their fellow man or woman. It's seems the masses are leaping off their couches, mobile devices in hand, finding their voices, and letting it be known they will be heard.


Social Media has played a hand in both a planned demonstration like the #WomensMarch, and spur-of-the-moment protests at the airports this week.


How will it all play it out? Only time and Twitter will tell.





Monday, January 2, 2017

2017's arrival welcome after rough end to 2016

It's hard to believe that it's 2017 already!


Twitter users will no doubt have noted the disdain many were feeling toward the year 2016. This was because of the deaths of George Michael, Carrie Fisher and her mother, Debbie Reynolds, in the waning days of the year.


To be fair, many celebrities, musicians, actors, and sports figures were lost in 2016. One fan of 90-something Betty White even started a Go Fund page to place her in bubble wrap for safety until the end of the year. On the surface, that makes about as much sense as being mad at the year 2016.


We'll just have to hope that 2017 is kinder to all.


On a different note, I always enjoy looking back at the year just ended to see what I had done for the first time. It's a bit like a bucket list, but doesn't necessarily include fun things:


1) My plane was deiced in Minneapolis on my way to Richmond, Va., to meet with Admin Concepts, NFPW's new management team for the first time in person. It was an interesting start to what turned out to be a very productive weekend.


2) My sister and I attended our first NASCAR Sprint Cup race outside of Kansas Speedway or Daytona International Speedway. I had won the tickets in 2015 in an online NASCAR fantasy game, so we had our choice of any 2016 race to attend. We chose Charlotte Motor Speedway and the Coca-Cola 600, the longest race in NASCAR, over Memorial Day weekend. We were treated to one of the most lop-sided races of the year as Martin Truex Jr. smoked (and I mean SMOKED) the field. That was fine, as he is one of our favorite drivers. We also visited the NASCAR Hall of Fame and enjoyed visiting Charlotte.


I'm sure there are more 2016 firsts, but I am drawing a blank. If I think of any, I'll add them later.


Happy New Year to all!