Media Malfunctions #1: Pandemonium

A recent news story that made the rounds on various news sites in the last few days has once again stirred the debate on companies incorporating politics into their products and services.

As first reported by Propublica.org, Pandora listener Crystal Harris of North Carolina was listening to Garth Brooks when all the sudden a pop up add appeared asking permission for Mitt Romney’s campaign to use her email address. 

Oh boy, here we go again.

After receiving the pop up three times, she snapped a screen shot and tweeted the image with a simple hash tag: “#fail.”

I encourage anyone to check out the full news story (links at the bottom of this article, in the sources sections), and read the full story. However, even “ProPublica”, who claims to be an “independent, non profit newsroom”, gave this story a huge liberal slant. Their headline read: “Pandora Asks Listeners to Share Their Emails With Romney.”

And it wasn’t just them, every other news outlet or blog that covered this story (that I read), each one highlighted the fact that it was a Romney campaign ad. Each organization decided to bury the fact that Crystal Harris also received an Obama ad, something that was buried in the last paragraph of each article.

The story reports that Harris is a Democrat and has been planning to vote for President Obama in the November elections. It’s not shocking to learn that she, apparently had no issue with an Obama ad popping up, but those damn Romney ads…the nerve! Harris in a quoted interview said, “Don’t harass me on my email. Don’t stalk me on the apps that I use.” It makes me wonder whether she only feels this way about the Romney ads, or President Obama’s as well.

Now to be fair, this has everything to do with our media and little to do with Harris. The fact is, if this were to be a story; it should highlight the fact that Pandora is a bomb-barding their listeners with political pop-up ads. But the headlines and the meat of the story of course, were to showcase that Romney was harassing poor Crystal Harris while she was simply trying to get her country groove on.

Okay, to be clear, I’m not cool with Pandora sticking listeners with political ads, in a time where we are already get blasted on a daily basis with political ads and rhetoric-god forbid you live in a swing state-but Pandora’s free service does come with ads. And hey, what company isn’t trying to make extra coin? I’m sure both campaigns are offering up a decent amount of cash for the pop-up airtime.

A big part of this story is whether or not Harris was targeted by the Romney campaign because she was listening to country music, or  living in a swing state. But remembering the fact that she also received an Obama ad, I’m going to go ahead and assume it’s more to do with living in North Carolina then the choice of music…unless the article’s omitted the fact that upon receiving a string of Romney ads, she quickly changed her tunes to Lada Gaga’s station.

Also in the article is Harris stating that she loves Pandora, but that political ads may convince her to upgrade to their ad-free version…

So let me get this straight; you don’t like the fact that Pandora bomb-barded you with political ads, but your solution is to give that same company, revenue on a monthly basis? It might just be me, but I feel that’s a little backwards.

Let’s go down this list shall we?

First off, when will we ever get mainstream media sources that aren’t bias in one direction or the other? Or at the very least, won’t take a story and try to find a slant into the blue or red? This story should never have focused on Romney’s campaign bothering Pandora listeners; Pandora stated (in the article) that both parties have ads on their service. We are never going to accomplish anything in our country if we keep having this divide.

I’d be ecstatic if we could dodge campaign ads as a whole, but this is just another example that showcases that no matter where we go, either Obama or Romney will be lobbying for our support, and swing states have it far worse. I’d like to see our nation more politically informed, but considering both campaigns are consumed with lies, these type of ads could go away and I wouldn’t shed a tear.

As always, the conversation in the comment sections of these articles was filled with cries to boycott Pandora. No shock, and in some ways I can’t blame anyone for trying to avoid the ads. At least for the moment, it seems that Pandora is catering to both sides and not showing a bias one way or the other. But if you’re looking for another option, just head over to Spotify. I don’t know or haven’t heard of, any political ads consuming listeners on their free music service (full disclosure I have a premium Spotify subscription).

Also, smart move by Pandora, stick a whole bunch of political ads on your music service that piss people off enough like Crystal Harris and BOOM! You have more paying costumers looking to escape the torture of an election season. However, the more likely result will be a loss of listeners. I have to completely disagree with Harris’ thinking, if you’re not happy about it, don’t throw money into their pockets. Instead, inform the company and tell your friends. 

Yes, the ads will go away if you pay for a subscription. But isn’t that a true testament to the American way? We’d rather be lazy and spend more money, then have our voices be heard and a change made.  

In conclusion, these types of stories will continue to pop up, and will almost always have a slant toward one party or another depending on your source of news. The best thing you can do is to go beyond the surface story. It would be easy to read and pass this along as another case of Romney bashing, when in fact, both parties are partaking in Pandora’s open door political ad policy.

Instead of getting upset at either side, how about send a quick email to the site that publishes these stories; especially those who claim to be independent (yes, I know, independent doesn’t mean it comes without bias).

And remember, the worst thing you can do in a case of story like this, is to copy it after just glancing over the article and sharing it with all your friends on Facebook or Twiiter. Whether you post it because liberals keep trying to attack Romney (somewhat true in this case, but it doesn’t do anyone any good, to continue this pointless name-calling) or you post this trying to smear Romney as a campaign trying to ruin our music (also, somewhat true, but your boy, President Obama is doing the same thing).

Because I swear to God, if I see this being “shared’ as a smear tactic for either side, in another one of those dumb Facebook graphics that are almost always full of false information and millions of “likes”, I just might lose it.

With respect,

Loghan Call

Song recommendation:

Lies” By The Rolling Stones from the album “Some Girls”.

“Lies, dripping off your mouth like dirt

Lies, lies in every step you walk

Lies, whispered sweetly in my ear

Lies, how do I get out of here?

Why, why you have to be so cruel?

Lies, lies, lies I ain’t such a fool!

Lies, lies in my papa’s looks

Lies, lies in my history books

Lies, lies like they teach in class

Lies, lies, lies I catch on way too fast

Fire, fire upon your wicked tongue

Lies, lies, lies you’re trying to spoil my fun

Lies, lies you dirty jezebel

Why, why, why, why don’t you go to hell? [Why don’t ya?]

Why, why you think me such a fool?

Lies, lies, lies honey that’s ya rules!

Lies on lies upon lies upon lies upon lies….

Lies upon lies upon lies upon lies upon lies….

Lies lies lies lies lies lies lies lies lies lies lies

Lies lies lies lies lies lies lies lies lies lies lies lies lies lies

Lies! Lies! Lies! Lies! Lies! Lies!”

 

Sources and work cited: 

http://www.propublica.org/article/pandora-asks-listeners-to-share-their-emails-with-romney

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/entertainment/2011/09/lady-gaga-attends-obama-fundraising-event/

http://www.sing365.com/music/lyric.nsf/LIES-lyrics-The-Rolling-Stones/DC4D99446DDFEC994825689A00255972