Each year, the December Media Rants column for The Scene features my choices for TONY Awards for outstanding media work in the Fox Valley. The idea for such awards was actually former Scene editor Tom Breuer's. Previous award winners can be found here, here, here, here, here, and here. And now the 2008 recipients.
The 2008 TONY Awards
by Tony Palmeri
Writing for the commondreams.org website, media critic Jeff Cohen argues independent media were the "big election winner" in 2008. For Cohen, in 2008 independent media finally defanged the swift boating, right wing operatives and their corporate media enablers: "While conservative and establishment pundits still dominate TV and radio, progressive dominance of the Internet has made it easier for media critics and bloggers to instantly rebut the kind of hoaxes and smears that so damaged Gore and Kerry."
Every year since 2002 I've given TONY Awards to local independent media practitioners who think outside the corporate box and show excellence in educating, agitating, enlightening, or entertaining Valley audiences. Doing indepenent media around here got more difficult in the last few years, due to corporate media intrusion into the formerly alternative blogosphere and an annoyingly high amount of cyber participation by Internet trolls whose main goal is to disrupt use of the Net as a space for democratic engagement. TONY Award winners are not always Internet based, but do typically represent good role models of standing tall in the face of trollism and the dominant corporate media.
And now the 2008 TONY Award recipients. Drum roll please.
The Snyder-Jarman Award For Excellence In Radio: The student crew at 90.3 WRST FM in Oshkosh. Robert L. "Doc" Snyder, legendary founder of the UW Oshkosh media program, passed away this year. Ben Jarman, long time Director of UWO's college radio station, retired this year after inspiring students for many years. The Snyder-Jarman Award is a special TONY for excellence in radio broadcasting. This year the award goes to WRST students, who in 2008 produced two events of special merit. First, a "Music and Media" conference, broadcast live, that brought together professionals and practitioners from a variety of media fields. Second, an election night radio special featuring fine interviews of and commentary from local pundits and political experts.
The "Daily Dose of Derision" Award: Jonathan Krause's "My Two Cents" Blog. Mr. Krause is News Director at WOSH radio in Oshkosh. His "My Two Cents" blog features a new entry almost day, Monday through Friday. Though I frequently disagree with Krause on political issues, I find his low tolerance for stupidity and hypocrisy quite amusing. His cheap shots are always good for a morning chuckle. Typical Krauseism: "You couldn't pay me enough to attend Country USA. First off, the music itself would leave me wanting to set myself on fire."
"Required Reading" Award: Jim Lundstrom's February cover story for the Scene, "Power to the Peoples," detailed the history of the first black-owned brewery in the nation, Peoples Brewery in Oshkosh.The piece pulls no punches and delves into the ugly racism existing in the Fox Valley circa 1970-72. Should be required reading in any local high school or college courses dealing with the civil rights movement.
Best Comedy/Satire Column: Daphne Young's monthly Scene contribution, "The Futile Fashionista." Ms. Young has a knack for making fun of the fashion industry and fashion icons in a way that strips them (pun intended) of their mysterious power over us. And the column is often hilarious, as evidenced by this gem: "An imperfect body on a sweet individual is always hot. A perfect body with a bad personality attached, like a cheap thong, may look cute at first but ends up a pain in the butt." Priceless.
Most Valuable Blog Participants: CJ McDonald (Oshkosh) and Lon Ponschok (Appleton). CJ and Lon are the opposite of Internet trolls. Each treats interactive Internet sites as real spaces for democratic engagement and education. Each has led me to a variety of links and other information that I have found extremely valuable, and I know others have too. If everyone on the Net participated like CJ and Lon, cyberspace really would be a revolutionary experiment in participatory democracy.
The "Inconvenient Truth" Award For Best New Environmental Blog: The Energy Coalition for a Sustainable Fox Valley. I learned about this site from Lon. ECOS-FV "is a coalition of non-profit organizations, businesses, governments and citizens that plans with and advocates for the Fox Valley region, for a future that is locally self-reliant and sustains the regional and global environment. To receive email news, send a message to ECOS@sustainfv.org." The blog is regularly updated, engaging, and provides links to all major environmental happenings in the Valley.
Best Electronic Archive: iTunes at UW Oshkosh. For a variety of good reasons, interested citizens cannot make it to a college campus to hear presentations. Thankfully, UW Oshkosh now houses an online audio archive of significant campus events that is already proving to be invaluable as a resource for research and civic engagement. Search the site and you can listen, for example, to all of the great talks delivered at the campus' October Earth Charter Summit. Great stuff.
What is the fate of independent media in the age of Obama? I hope the new president's populist platitudes don't lull us into thinking we need to be any less vigilant in taking on elite control of our government and media. Whether a Barack or a Bush in the White House, the task of speaking truth to power never ends.
Congratulations to the TONY Award winners!