Sunday, September 05, 2010

AC360 Review Turns Four Years Old

Hello readers! This is one of those rare posts where I go all meta up in this joint. Why? Because September 1st was AC360 Review's four year anniversary! Hurray! Um, hurray? I have to say, the fact that I'm still trucking after all this time has me a bit discombobulated.

There was no great planning that went into the creation of this endeavor. At some point, I took a ponder about that whole blog thing the kids were suddenly so nuts about, and I thought to myself, Self, you can do that. After witnessing the media's near-complete failure from post 9-11 through the run-up to the Iraq war and beyond, I had developed quite a case of Angry Face when it came to the press. A writer at heart, I figured a blog about a news show would be a good way to channel those feelings, and keep me flexing my creative muscle.

Thus on September 1, 2006--exactly one year after Anderson Cooper's noteworthy interview with Senator Mary Landrieu--AC360 Review was born. This is what I wrote on the blog's first anniversary:
One of the reasons I started this little undertaking was due to the realization that if you watch the news and yell at your television set, well, you're crazy. But, if you watch the news and then take to the interwebs to put your yelling and quirky observations in post form for the whole world to mock/judge/appreciate, well, you're a blogger! See how that works, kids?
Now I'm hitting the four year mark. Four years?! How did this happen?! One can earn an entire bachelor's degree in that amount of time. Truth be told, I kind of feel like I have. I can say unequivocally that I have learned much, much more about the television news industry by blogging this show and following CNN at large, than I ever did while obtaining my minor in media communications. And the things I have learned have made me very sad for us all!

This blog has also allowed me a thorough education in the phenomenon of celebrity and how it affects the mentally unstable. Oh yes. I know I occasionally give Anderson Cooper some (mostly) good-natured grief for his shunning of social-networking with his viewers, but oh my, can't really blame a guy for that one. He's like a tight t-shirt-wearing flame to a shocking amount of crazy moths. I'm not talking about you, dear reader; I'm sure you're totally cool.

Why did I choose this show instead of grabbing from the bottom of the barrel to provide hardcore monitoring like News Hounds does for Fox News? Well, quite frankly, I'm just not that service-y. Though I take news criticism very seriously, this is just as much an entertainment endeavor. I picked a show that I actually like. If someone out there in the ether listens to my suggestions--or I cause someone to think differently about the news they consume--that's fabulous. To expect that to happen is
unlikely (and a little bit crazy), but I'd like to think this blog has had its moments. Besides, I need my snark, yo.

During Anderson's Katrina coverage, I was still becoming familiar with his reporting, and a part of me thought, this is the guy. This is the person who's going to save the sometimes hellhole that is cable news. Well, as I've since learned, he's not that person. It was terribly unfair to think that he was--that person simply doesn't exist.

What continues to draw me to Anderson (and the show by extension), is that though he may be flawed, he at least appears to truly care about the world, and at least tries to do right by his job. That's really all I or anyone else deserve from him. Yes, it seems small and obvious, but unfortunately it's apparently not. The issues covered by the news matter. Too many people on TV are simply acting a part. They're playing a game with other people's lives.

Plus? Is there any anchor more fun to blog than Anderson Cooper? Endearing earnestness. Hardened cynicism. Adolescent-like excitability. Lack of reaction. Adorable sweetness. Razor-sharp snark. Speech impediments. A mental filter that doesn't always work. Our anchor is both painstakingly predictable and consistently surprising all at once. He almost always gives me something to lovingly mock--sometimes even seems to be begging for it. I mean, c'mon, the man wears tight t-shirts like a uniform! Oh, and of course, oh so pretty. Ahem.

When I first started this blog, I didn't know what to expect. I remember anxiously checking my sitemeter that first week and discovering that, ZOMG!!!, I have eight hits! Exciting! Though readership has grown considerably since that lone eight, this blog is still geared to a pretty niche audience. So, you ask, why not quit and start something with broader appeal now that I've learned how to do this well? The short answer: I don't know!

Believe me, I've asked myself that question many times. I guess it has a lot to do with what I've written above. What can I say? I can't quit you, 360 (insert Brokeback Mountain joke here). My regular readership may be small, but I know you're out there, and I appreciate every one of you. Let this be the part of the post where I say thanks for visiting my little corner of the Internets. You're welcome anytime (but please wipe your feet first).

As I thought about what I was going to say for this post, I came to the depressing realization that this blog almost perfectly exhibits my slow decent into slackerdom (we're nearing on pot-smoking Cheetos-eating here, people!). In my defense, the four years contain that whole me-almost-dying thing (not recommended!), and the ongoing ramifications of that, but still.

I started out such a Gung-Ho little news critic. At the time, 360 was airing two live hours and I blogged both of them. Once I got feedback that people were using me as a news source (WHAT?!), I semi freaked out, and started making the reviews more in depth--adding lots of info the show wasn't covering.

In fact, I even started adding an extra post every week to hit on important stories 360 was missing. Remember that? Those posts took forever, and have subsequently ceased to exist.

I guess the reviews have sort of ceased to exist as well, haven't they? That in of itself was never a conscious decision. I did, however, decide to stop going in depth on things that I simply don't care about, and stop posting when the show's quality takes a nosedive. Blogging crap news feels like work, and quite frankly, I'm not getting paid for this (If anyone out there would like to change that, I am totally available to take your call). But you love the bullet points of awesomeness, right? RIGHT?

Though I've never taken the idea of this blog too seriously, I do hope I've succeeded in living up to the tenets of which I've imposed on myself and anyone else who posts here: be fair, be accurate. Putting 360's reporting into my blog voice while retaining the context can be fraught with peril. I've always been very careful not to become part of the problem. After all, I'm critiquing people based on the information they put out into the world. To do a bad job myself would pretty much make me a hypocrite of epic proportions--a pusher-of-anti-gay-rights-legislation-while-getting-jollies-in-the-men's-room kind of hypocrite .

As for fairness, I don't understand why people wouldn't be fair. The absolute best way for you to get someone to NOT listen to you is to accuse them of things that are inaccurate and be really nasty while doing so. The interwebs are mean, yo. Journalists are people who want to be liked just like everybody else. Those that say the criticism doesn't bother them are lying (they cry sad, sad tears!).

I often hate the media with a fiery passion (legit--I'm not kidding), but there can be unforeseen events at play that affect a story, and sometimes mistakes simply happen. There's not always evil a-foot (unless we're talking about Fox News, then, you know, obviously). Too many preconceived notions all around.

I like to give reporters the benefit of the doubt. If a person proves themselves to be hacktastic after getting the benefit of the doubt for, say, at least two years--as is the case with one certain CNN reporter who shall remain nameless
*coughDrewGriffincough*--well, then that's another story. But I maintain that the world would be a better place if the public was a little more constructive with their media criticism. Then maybe reporters wouldn't be, like, the most defensive people ever.

I'm going to start to wrap up this epic longness with some shout outs. It's probably not a shock to my readers to say that a lot of inspiration for this blog comes from the Daily Show. Much of what I do here is simply that show in blog form (and, um, way less funny). But I should also note the important lesson I've learned from them regarding hitting those with power vs. those without.

This is the Internet. Anyone can Google and end up at this blog (and they do). I may not always succeed, but I try to remain conscious of that always. I
t's one thing to snark on a public official who is "hiking the Appalachian Trail"; it's something entirely different to snark on an everyday person who for whatever reason has found themselves part of a news story--or even to deem their story not worthy of being told.

Since I'm shouting out other TV shows, I guess Buffy the Vampire Slayer deserves some props as well. No, really! I'm pretty sure my blog voice was at least partially unconsciously inspired by Buffy Speak. That's right, just call me the slayer of crap news. Unfortunately, the infrequency of my reviews has made all the political and pop culture references I used to add in fewer and farther between. (Sad face.) I'll try to work on that.

Also, thanks and shout outs to all my commenters, emailers, those who contact me on Twitter, those who give me link love, and any CNNer past or present who has taken the time to read what I have to say--with a special thank you to Gary Tuchman for allowing me to interview him.

Finally, thank you to those couple of people who have always been there for me, late at night, ready to answer the burning question, "Does this make sense?" You know who you are. These past four years have been quite a trip. Four more? Haha. We'll see.

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Anonymous ZEGrockle said...

Thank you, Eliza. I'm a new reader, and I don't comment nearly as much as I should, but I truly do appreciate the time you put into making my keeping-up-with-current-events more enjoyable. And the bullet points of awesomeness are, indeed, awesome.

2:50 PM  
Anonymous pebbles said...

I don't usually comment but I just want to congratulate you on your fourth anniversary. I always look forward to your reviews and your snark. It surprises me sometimes it's like you're reading my mind when I read your comments. I enjoy reading your blog, you're very funny. I'm hoping for four more years or more.

10:55 PM  
Anonymous Chris Sosa said...

Congratulations on four years of highly successful blogging! What started off as a minor creative channel has turned into the most respected blog on this show. Your snarky wit, keen insights, and forward style have turned heads and caught the attention of readers (both passive observers and media insiders) for literally years.

You challenge all of us to think about the world around us a little more and view it with a critical eye. By your having a good time doing it, readers are able to share in the fun. For all of that I say a sincere, "Thank you."

While I rarely let up on my biting sarcasm, I took a little time off here because you deserve the props. Keep up the awesome work!

11:31 PM  
Anonymous Lauren--NY said...

I can't say it any better than Chris did. What an extraordinary accomplishment this blog has become. This is the caliber of work to which we should all be pointing when people question the value of citizen journalism.

You are a person of great social conscience with a tremendous capacity for critical thinking and boundless, yet unsentimental compassion. A valuable writer, and an invaluable friend. Thank you, Eliza.

2:07 AM  

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