Update for the week - a really long rant about the media
I really, really hate it when I am interviewed by the media and they either
a) Get the facts wrong
b) have a hidden agenda
I had that happen twice this past week, and from two people I used to respect quite a bit. I will not be mentioning names because they don't deserve any publicity.
The first was a book radio show. The female radio interviewer had been sent my book and even emailed me that the first chapter (about my personal cyberstalking case) was amazing! I had previously been scheduled to be on her show, but the electricity shut down and we had to rebook. So I was looking forward to the interview.
She started it off trying to give a short description of what happened to me online and I almost wanted to ask her if she was sure she read the chapter in my book. She got so many things wrong. Then she asked how a book proposal got me nominated as Lifetime TV's Champion for Change. What? I was clearly flustered and told her I had no idea where she got that information from. She insisted she read that somewhere. Uh-huh.
Then we got on the subject of marketing books. Since I have a traditional publisher, which she sounded skeptical of (hey, lady, look at the book cover and copyright page in the book), I told her they were handling the majority of it by hiring a publicist, sending me to Book Expo, printing up postcards, sending out press releases, etc. She almost didn't believe me.
I told her that I try to do things locally, since we don't have a bookstore in my town. I recommended getting your book sold in hospital gift shops. She scoffed at that - why would anyone want to buy an Internet book while at the hospital? Well, I said, if you're the relative or friend and are trying to amuse yourself while your loved one is sleeping, being operated on, etc., my book is a good read. I mentioned that the hospital here keeps two books on consignment. She got mad about that and said consignment was not a good thing. Well, it works for me, so why knock it?
I was not impressed.
The second interview was a national radio show I've been on many times before and I like the host. He has always been good to me. We sent out a press release recently stating that WHOA (my organization) denounces a video game coming out in October that glorifies bullying. I won't name the game or game manufacturer. They don't need the publicity either. Pfft.
So his producer calls me and is all hot to get me on the show to have a heated debate. I'm wondering why in the world would there be a debate? Why would any game manufacturer create a game where a teenager is sent to a private school, is bullied and retaliates by getting violent with the bullies? The game also makes the teachers and school personnel look incompetent and not to be trusted. Not a good thing.
I get on the air and he rails into me about how dare I tell retailers to ban the game. I asked him where in our release we had the word "ban." We asked retailers to think twice about selling it. We are not telling them not to, but to seriously think about it.
He went on and on and was really heated about it. I was flummoxed. How could anyone not be against a game that is targeted to teens, has a teen as a main character and encourages teens to beat the living crap out of other teens?
At one point, I actually told him I refused to answer his question. The producer came on in the break and told me that callers were on my side. A couple of those calls were broadcast and not one supported this radio host.
He then told me it should be up to the parents to not let their kids play the game. Yes, to a certain extent, parents *are* responsible for their kids actions. But when their children leave the house, all bets are off. Parents can't be 100% responsible, no matter what. He didn't like that answer either.
Then he had the nerve to tell me that if I am against this game, then I am going to have to be against all games that are violent, sexist, etc. I told him no, I don't. The other games have adults as main characters, are fantasy, or are obviously tongue in cheek. This game, however, glorifies bullying and encourages the player to beat others up.
Kids are impressionable. Kids are bullied every day. Kids commit suicide because they can't deal with bullying. There is no need for a game that glorifies a real life situation like this one does. Shame on the game manufacturer!
At the end of the interview, he drops a bombshell on me - he is a voice in a video game coming out soon. I checked it out and sure enough, it's rated "M" and is a game where you play a gangster in a gang and have to fight rival gangs and the police. There is shooting, stabbing, murder in it. Lovely.
So there was a hidden agenda all this time. And I guess greed won out in the end for him. Instead of looking at this game and saying, "You know what? This game could encourage kids and adults to join a gang and kill people, so I can't do it?", the almighty dollar won out.
He's gone Hollywood and has lost what I liked most about him - passion for doing the right thing.
I had him taken off our PR list. I can't do interviews with hypocrites. And I am very angry he didn't disclose he had a personal issue with my stance on this bullying game. He should never have done the interview, since he couldn't do it objectively.
I will continue to fight to protect kids, teens and adults online. When it comes to bullying, that has headed online and I will do what I can to prevent it from getting worse. If it means getting people to not buy a certain game, then so be it. I can only hope the game does get banned. Period.
End of rant.