As I've mentioned before, I'm torn when it comes to the Newsbreakers. Part of me applauds their much-needed skewering of the electronic media, but if they showed up at my live shot, I'd hit 'em with a bag of chisels - or at least want to. So, I e-mailed spokesman Buck "Lucky" Owens with a few questions...
Lenslinger: What exactly are you trying to accomplish?
Buck "Lucky" Owens: We are trying to make media criticism an exciting topic for water cooler chat and backyard barbecues. As it stands right now, the people who care about improving journalism in this country are relegated to drowsy lecture halls and the smallest desks in the newsrooms. Everyone else is left to give up, tune out or find alternative means of informing themselves. We see this happening on an anecdotal basis and think the numbers bear it out as well. Meanwhile, from our vantage point, TV news is going down the sh!tter. We're here to say the pipes are getting clogged with too much corporate group think, government acquiescence (or worse) in the form of deregulation and personal buck-passing. We want to get regular people (read: non-newsies/non-academics) involved in the discussion before there's a fetid mess on the floor.
Lenslinger: How do you feel about the legion of photogs who are calling for your intestines on a stick?
Buck "Lucky" Owens: It's to be expected. Afterall, you guys feel the pain of our actions most acutely. What surprises us is the number of photogs who actually voice support for us. If anything, we expect all you guys to be haters. Based on b-roll.net and personal feedback, you're not.
Media professionals have a right and an expectation to "do their job." The question at the core of that statement is "For whom are you doing the job?" If you are just doing the job for the company who cuts your check, are you doing enough? We want more. We want to remind journalists about their duty to serve the public. That responsibility is what we believe attracted them to their careers in the first place.
Lenslinger: Are you seeking serious media reform, or are you just getting your rocks off at all the fuss you've kicked up?
Buck "Lucky" Owens: I'm sorry. Are these two activities mutually exclusive?
Do we have fun? Of course, because we want our work to be accessible. We don't claim to function like the PEJ or FAIR. What we do, hopefully, is drive people to check out these types of organizations. We're carnival barkers inviting people into the tent of serious media reform.
Do we support the ideas behind initiatives like micro-broadcasting and the Two Minute Media Revolution? You betcha. (Christ, I'm sounding more like Donald Rumsfeld these days.)
Lenslinger: How much does the internet mean to your seizure of the airwaves?
Buck "Lucky" Owens: The internet has its pros and cons. Obviously it allows us share our work with a large number of people in as close to real time as we can handle. That's a drawback, too. Everything moves so quickly on the 'net that we have to bust our balls to keep up. There's a blogger out of Albany, NY who writes about us. Three weeks after our January bust, he wondered publicly if we had disappeared since he had heard about us lately.
Lenslinger: Who picks your costumes?
Buck "Lucky" Owens: Responsibility for costuming decisions are shared between the group and the product of our favorite brewers.
Lenslinger: What's next?
Buck "Lucky" Owens: Now what fun would answering that question be? We're taking requests, though.