Prattle on
Monday, January 30, 2006
So, the other day in my San Francisco hotel room, I sat and watched “The News Hour with Jim Lehrer.” So, yeah, I was watching the “news.” Wrapping up the show was a seven-minute segment on Oprah’s denouncing James Frey, author of “A Million Little Pieces” as a lot of his “memoir” is actually fiction. Seven minutes they dedicated to this. The Bush administration has been illegally wire-tapping it’s own citizens, but I had to watch a seven minute re-cap of an Oprah Winfrey show.

The whole “Million Little Pieces” saga is a hilarious one. Yes, the guy and his publisher sold it as a memoir and it is mostly fiction (mind you I am about 98% sure that his publisher knew it was fiction, but a memoir tugs those heart strings. The book company will get over the rub, as a million more books are flying off the shelves. You should see the stacks of it in the airport stores, which is shocking considering shelf space for books – especially at airports – is precious. The orgy of order fulfillment between the chain owner, store manager, publishing company, wear house and distributor astounds me. All this bad press is great for the bottom line!). Audiences will always want more lies.

I guess it is important that the whole world knew that Oprah is real upset. She doesn’t like being lied to. The woman was mad. So, she dragged this guy on her show again to give him a good talking to in front of the whole nation. I wonder if Oprah has ever considered interviewing politicians. For the sake of Oprah, I am just going to pretend that “truth” really is at the heart of most American media and that most Americans actually rely on the media for it.

I’m just leaving San Francisco tonight after a conference that while interesting was not as relevant to my business as I had hoped. The conference was for the Independent Press. Really, it is best for the American independent press, but there were about 10 Canadians there. Surrounded by a political bunch, I was shocked when most of the attendees asked me to explain how Canadians could possible elect Stephen Harper’s Conservatives. In an effort to console us they said “Don’t worry, we are all accustomed to apologizing for our government. You’ll survive it.”

I was really surprised at the level of interest in this segment of the American media. I was even more surprised to see their obvious disappointment. Then I noticed how political they were. In the United States, the Independent press prefer to be called the “progressive” press, and so they should. Mainstream American media would call them a bunch of ‘liberals’ the way Americans do when describing people who dare not to be socially and politically conservative, but these are especially vocal and active ones.

This conference is exceedingly political, far more political than I could have ever imagined. Political talk dominated almost every session in this convention as the independents…the progressives look to galvanize their movements, voices and messages in an effort to offer Americans an alternative perspective on current events, government, and politics. Small magazines and newspapers from New York City, Austin, Kansas City, Boulder, Chicago, you name the American city, came together to discuss strategy and make plans. How are they going to survive when media ownership is more and more concentrated? To them, this is an emergency.

The conference was really interesting. But, the highlight was a talk by Amy Goodman of She is an excellent speaker and has had an amazing career as a journalist. She told a story about witnessing a massacre in East Timor. I can’t even imagine seeing what she has seen. Anyway, that’s all I got right now.

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