Tag Archives: movie

The Walter Mitty Syndrome

11712079046_eb6e6bff9bIn continuing with my movie theme from my last post, I have officially diagnosed myself with what I like to refer to as “the Walter Mitty syndrome.” As I watched the movie in theaters earlier this year, I found myself identifying with the main character, played by Ben Stiller. The deeper I get into journalism, the more I am affected by this “syndrome.”

For those of you who haven’t read or watched The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, it revolves around a man who works for Life magazine (which already stuck out to me as an aspiring journalist). Working around so many stories and pictures of wild adventures and breathtaking sceneries feeds his bouts of daydreaming. Mitty will see something or think of something that triggers an action-packed adventure… in his head.

Well, with the constant brainstorming of possible news stories, I too drift off and, like Mitty, I often find myself tuning someone out in a conversation. I could be talking to a friend, eavesdropping…I mean, listening to those around me, or even sitting in class when someone will mention something that happened to them or something that’s coming up and immediately, my mind starts to go down the perilous path of “could that be a news story?” As I construct the whole story, thinking about possible sources, and trying to come up with a thought-provoking or innovative take on the story, I realize that I have completely phased out of reality. This is not good, especially when it happens in the middle of a professor reviewing for a test (sorry professors).

Just last week, I was going through lifeguard training and the instructor was talking about how water was considered a weapon, and that there were around 74 water related deaths in Texas in 2013. When he said that, I remembered that my school has a pool without a lifeguard on duty. I started to think of the possibility of doing a story on the amount of emergencies in the pool or maybe find out more about what the facility’s plan of action is in case of an emergency. Then I realized that the instructor had been continuing to talk the whole time… and I had no idea what he had said after the “74 water related deaths” part. Not a good thing to do when being trained on something like saving someone from drowning. I need a cure.

P.S. Yes, I wrote this post while listening to the Walter Mitty soundtrack the whole time. Just thought I’d let you know.


The ‘Non-Stop’ Flow of Information

Tonight, I went to see Non-Stop. That movie definitely kept me on the edge of my seat, but the reason why I’m putting this on a blog that’s supposed to be about journalism is because it actually revealed a lot about how the media works today. Before I go into the journalistic connection behind this suspenseful-thriller, I have to give a little background information (don’t worry, there won’t be any spoilers). 

Non-Stop takes place on a plane en-route to London.The air marshal, Bill Marks (Liam Neeson), receives a text message saying that one passenger will be killed every 20 minutes unless $150 million is transferred to a given bank account. Marks tries to identify the source of the texts among the 150 passengers on board.Initially, he conducts random searches and makes announcements that make the people on board confused and anxious while withholding as much information as possible since any one of them could be the culprit. Thanks to technology, the passengers initial source of news about their flight comes from none other than the national news streaming live on their individual television screens, and a lot of where those news stations are getting their information is coming from onboard footage taken by a teenage boy with a camera phone.

That’s when it struck me, the very people involved in the situation find their information from a secondhand source. Obviously, Marks doesn’t tell the passengers all the information due to security and safety precautions as he doesn’t want everyone to panic and he doesn’t want to agitate the terrorist behind the threatening text messages. However, the whole situation brings me to ask two questions: 

  1. With the advancement of technology, is it really possible to control when and how information gets out? 
  2. Was it really safer and more desirable that the passengers had to eventually find out from the newscast rather than hear directly from the authorities on board?

News spreads. That’s a fact that has been true in every time period, but in the 21st century where we have all types of information at the end of our fingertips, the dynamics have changed a lot. 

Whether in big corporations or governments, certain information is withheld because of the danger or negative effects it could have on those connected to the situation, but today, anybody with a camera and access to the internet can release news no matter how accurate or useful the content is. It is weird how today, in the name of safety, security and confidentiality those who are directly involved in a situation sometimes get updates and news about their predicament from those who aren’t even in a 25 mile radius from them and have no connection or involvement in the crises at hand. Who gets to know? Those involved or those searching for news? And who tells them? Someone on the scene or is news developed from rumors and speculation? 

Sorry to throw a bunch of questions at you, I might be rambling at this point but it just really stood out to me. I want to clarify however, that I’m not saying that people should not get their information from the news media, that would most likely put me out of a future job. However, many times, especially when it comes to sensitive situations, the information is gathered from tweets and word of mouth instead of given directly from the authorities or people who know first hand what is going on and can give the right information for the media to disperse. While some information does need to be guarded, sometimes, we get a little too protective of our information, until it finds another, usually messier, way to get out to the public. When it comes to releasing news, transparency not only makes it easier for us (journalists) to collect the right information, but it can be more beneficial than trying to keep everything under wraps. What do you think? 

And as for the question about national security the movie brings up, we’ll leave that to someone else to blog about.

 

1. Side note: Someone behind this movie seems to like the number 150.