Programming

An Open Letter to 2009

12/19/2009 02:00:00 AM Eastern

Dear 2009:

Screw you. Seriously, die. You can't end quickly enough. Forget silver linings and all that crap, let's be honest: You stunk.

Where do you want to start? How about the world of journalism—or what's left of it. Journalism is far worse off than it was a year ago, and as I have said before in this space, that will very simply lead to the dumbing-down of our country. That's not hyperbole.

Too many thoughtful and important journalists were replaced by thoughtless and insignificant bloggers or needlessly ranting pundits. And too many left in their jobs are engaging—or being forced to engage in—silliness to attract Web traffic that their sales side can't monetize anyway. For instance, can we please stop the trend of a journalist going on Twitter before a big interview and asking his followers if they have any questions for the interview subject? Seriously, it's like a chef tweeting (still detest that verb), “How should I make my steak tartare tonight?” I know I wouldn't go to that restaurant.

Elsewhere, we were reminded that while politicians can be bought and sold, so, too, can World Series championships. But the worst part of the detested Yankees winning the title wasn't the Evil Empire rising again, but how soon the media forgets. At the beginning of the year, Alex Rodriguez created a circus by getting exposed as nothing more than a cheat, and was rightfully pilloried by the media. But by the post-season, he was celebrated as a hero.

We also saw probably the worst PR strategy in sports history with Tiger Woods' handling of his situation. While I can't stand the way he acts on the course with all of his ridiculous temper tantrums, to this day I am in shock at how badly his people shanked this whole thing from the start. They absolutely set the table for the media to dig up everything and vilify him. Though I will always have the great laugh of looking back at the media outlets that initially reported his wife going out to rescue him from his car with a golf club. At 2 in the morning. After reports of an affair had surfaced.

But that was hardly the only terrible decision made in 2009. There were the regrettable ones—like my choice to get an iPhone. I love the device itself. But switching from Verizon to AT&T is like moving from a chateau in the south of France to my in-laws in Sacramento. Seriously, I often sit around amusing myself by thinking of creative instruments with which I'd (allegedly) like to bludgeon the person in charge of AT&T's cellphone reception.

Then there were the stupid decisions (see Abdul, Paula). Joe Mantegna once told me he had a photo of Mandy Patinkin over his bed, since it was Inigo Montoya's flameout that handed Criminal Minds to Mantegna. Maybe Paula's “advisors” could send a nice head shot over to Ellen. You know, if they're not too busy fielding all of Abdul's lucrative offers.

And finally, there were the totally gutless decisions, like the sport of tennis' unwillingness to swiftly and strongly discipline Serena Williams for her scandalous threatening of a U.S. Open official. That was the day pro tennis lost the ability to call itself family-friendly. That was the sad day we truly learned no one in tennis has any balls.

Granted, there was some late cause for optimism heading into 2010. The broadcast networks put on wonderful television like Glee and Modern Family, and even better, viewers actually showed up. There are some signs of the advertising market at least bottoming out. And America is rallying around a true throwback hero who is inspiring people of all ages: Brett Favre.

So here's hoping we all bounce back in the year ahead. And 2009, I wish you farewell. And extend to you the courtesy of exactly what you deserve: my middle finger.

E-mail comments to
ben.grossman@reedbusiness.com
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@BCBenGrossman

 

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