Home / View Point / Earl Best / Media Monitor—Epilogue: Taking a reading; what do current trends mean for today’s papers?

Media Monitor—Epilogue: Taking a reading; what do current trends mean for today’s papers?

Two questions demanded an answer last week during the second Donald Trump impeachment proceedings. Fascinated by the phenomenon of fascism’s fight for a firm foothold in what once was democracy’s fortress, few had missed round one last year.

This time around, many watched very little, including the final vote. After all, no one needs the torture of a front row seat to see what happens when supposedly good men cower in the face of authoritarianism and thuggery, deathly afraid to denounce it?

Photo: Pro-Trump supporters volunteer to help count votes at the Capitol on 6 January 2021, roughly two months after the election.

Me? I chose merely to read the available accounts. 

That led to the discovery of the Twitter encounter involving MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell and Ted Cruz, the Elsie from Texas.

‘It is reminiscent of Shakespeare [in] that it is full of sound and fury, and yet signifying nothing,’ Cruz declared—declaimed?—not for the first time quoting the Bard to show off his Harvard education. 

‘No, that’s Faulkner,’ Mitchell tweeted in response.

‘Unless Faulkner predates #Macbeth,’ a newspaper editor set her right, ‘@tedcruz wins this round.’

 “Methinks,” Cruz returned to Twitter to turn the knife in the wound, ‘she doth protest too much.’ 

For the record, William Faulkner’s 1929 novel The Sound and the Fury borrowed its title from the Stratford-on-Avon maestro.

Photo: Republican Senator Ted Cruz.

Thank God that here there are still some people who read more than the Express and Guardian comic strips. And maybe the legends on Internet memes.

But the point I’m making is, I think, important. Your education never stops, not as long as you can—and do!—read.

For instance, on the Internet you can learn that linguist Stephen Krashen has propounded a Monitor Theory. According to him, when you learn any language, you develop inside your head a sort of appendix with a set of rules. If you say, see or hear something that contravenes one of those rules, inside your head, a bell goes off.

Spoiler alert: there’s a sports presenter on CNC3 whose alarm is on the fritz. 

Last week, that channel reported that ‘The Leeward Islands Hurricanes beat the Barbados Tridents by four wickets to win by three balls to spare’.

The error is understandable; leaving it uncorrected says something unflattering about the presenter.

Image: A satirical take on language.

Especially as on the following day, he added this to the pot: ‘…opener Kieran Powell struck 94 runs as the Leeward Islands Hurricanes set the Guyana Jaguars 244 for 9 to win in the Super50 Cup today’.

And he also let that stand! Maybe he loses it during hurricanes!

Not amused? Well, the horse wasn’t of an entirely different colour when I read the Express’ Michelle Loubon’s account of Andrea Bharatt’s funeral online on Saturday. That tickled me pink.

Here is the precise extract:

Andrea’s passion for the colour pink was ubiquitous in a preponderance of pink and white floral wreaths, pink and white teddy bears, pink bobbing balloons and pink buntings.

That was in black and white so clearly both her ears and her editors let her down!

But let us return to the impeachment hearing to underline just how far-reaching is the malaise.

Photo: Former US President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Drake University on 30 January 2020, in Des Moines, Iowa.
(Copyright AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

You may have heard about the multiple gems from the Trump defence lawyers. 

Here’s a sample:

And you will not hear any member of the team representing former President Trump say anything, but in the strongest possible way denounce the violence of the rioters and those that breached the Capitol, the very subtle of our democracy, literally the symbol that flashes on television whenever you’re trying to explain that we’re talking about the United States, instant symbol.” 

Verbatim! That’s the transcript! Mr Bruce Castor makes even Wade ‘MBA’ Mark look not too bad!

In T&T, he and that whole defence team would qualify as ‘dog lawyers’—only good enough to represent you if your pothound happened to bite someone in the street.

There was also Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s early lapsus ‘incitement to resurrection.’ And then, when it was all over, he was at it again, asking the presiding officer to adjourn the impeachment session ‘sine die’. 

Photo: Wait… Wha?!
(Copyright Shuttershock)

I know they’re not in the Capitol in Rome. But surely that is not C-NAY DIE but C-NAY DEE-A? 

There’s no confusing C-NN and C-CN, though. The American network’s ad breaks offer, inter alia, golfing tips. 

The current line-up features an instructor, who discusses ‘the acronym PGA’. His spiel ends this way: ‘By doing these three acronyms, posture, grip and alignment, you will suddenly become…’ something or the other. 

Elicits just a giggle, not a guffaw. Is PGA an acronym, ‘a word formed from the initial letters of other words’?

Or is it an acrostic, ‘a poem, word puzzle or other composition in which certain letters in each line form a word or words’?

Maybe it is simply a mnemonic, ‘a device such as a pattern of letters, ideas or associations which assists in remembering something’. 

Photo: A satirical spin on language.

I have forgotten. But I know for certain that posture, grip and alignment are NOT ‘three acronyms’.

The specialty of another instructor in the old line-up was the Leapfrog Ladder Drill.

Both on the screen and in the dictionary, ‘leapfrog’ is a single word. So it takes some doing to figure out how Monsieur came up, in his spiel, with ‘leapt frog’. 

However, neither of them is a sports editor. Their area of competence is golf instruction, an entirely different ballgame. 

The lesson in all of this is, of course, as the large printed poster in my children’s pre-school read all those years ago: lisez, lisez toujours; il en reste toujours quelque chose. (Never stop reading. You always get something out of it.)

Photo: The joy of reading…

Because, to get back to the opening questions, when you get right down to it, what effective advantage does the (wo)man who does not read have over the (wo)man who cannot read?

And, very relevant here, what does it mean for tomorrow’s media that the numbers of both groups are seemingly on the increase?

About Earl Best

Earl Best
Earl Best taught cricket, French, football and Spanish at QRC for many years and has written consistently for the Tapia and the Trinidad and Tobago Review since the 1970's. He is also a former sports editor at the Trinidad Guardian and the Trinidad Express and is now a senior lecturer in Journalism at COSTAATT.

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3 comments

  1. Lasana,Mr.Best,pllleeaassee highlight the appalling grammar,spelling,sentence construction,syntax and typos in the ticker tapes in both CNC3 and TV6.The standards have reached subterranean depths.

    • Earl Best

      Indra, you and the seven others who have noticed what you just pointed out don’t have long to wait. As it turns out, the ticker tape caught my eye last week.

      And, Mr Ranking, you don’t have long to wait either; the honourable gentleman from Naparima is more than likely to come in for dishonourable mention in the Monitor focusing on sport which is in the works.

      So, to quote a man with whose control and use of language I am certain Indra can find no fault, stand back and stand by.

  2. Scotty Ranking

    I see you’ve neglected to mention a certain cricket commentator – product of a ‘fine’ Naparima education – who somehow manages to say that any batsman who has hit a mighty straight-driven six has hit the ball “down the ground and over the pavilion”. If you’re listening to him without the benefit of the visual, you’d be lost wondering if the batsman has hit a four or a six or, somehow magically, both at the same time!