Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Issue Facing Journalism: News or Distraction?

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA BOWED when greeting the emperor of Japan recently, and that set off a media firestorm. Some in the media are saying that the president of the United States should not defer to anyone, anywhere.

Is this situation a distraction from what really happened on Obama's Asian tour? Have we lost site of the news that came out of the visits to Japan, China, Singapore and Korea?

Or is the fact that an American president genuflected before a foreign monarch actually news?

(Photo via the Associated Press)

16 comments:

Christopher Malo said...

The idea that we should not genuflect is symptomatic of the elitist arrogance that is so much of this country's problem.

Let alone from the fact that focusing on our President showing a sign of respect to a foreign head of state could somehow harm us (ignoring the current world view of America to begin with, courtesy of the harm and damage done by the former President's handiwork, we wouldn't want to improve that...), while ignoring the bigger picture and missing the point, is also again a sign of this county's media problems.

Don Hoegg said...

I knew this would get a blog posting...

My view on it mirrors Chris' completely with one exception:

Obama's bow is noteworthy, if only because it shows the change from the notorious arrogance that the rest of the world has come to expect of the US. Unless the President actually follows through with his intentions of discarding the tendencies of his predecessors, then the gesture is meaningless irrelevant. Symbolism DOES have it's place- a picture is worth a thousand words- but words are meaningless without action. Journalists should concern themselves with what Obama does, instead of debating what he says.

C.David Freitag said...

I agree with both. It is simple for me. Chris used the word, respect. Imagine if a foreign leader refused to shake the President's hand and the media focused on it. It would be a shitstorm for that country. People would be boycotting products from there. People on south st would have t-shirts with calvin pissing on the foreign leaders head. Aid would be cut to calm the national outcry. Army enlistment would spike. Too far? You get the idea. You have to give respect to earn respect. Bottom line.

And no its not news. They missed the bigger story. No question.

Floc said...

I agree 100% percent with those who say he should have bowed. When ministers from foreign countries come to our land to greet the president and other leaders, they follow our culture as a sign of respect. How can a prestigious leader such as Obama, especially in the 21st century, be progressive without adhering to the customs of the country he/she is visiting. It is a sign of respect, just like a handshake is a sign of respect.

Michelle Zei said...

There's something commendable about being aware of the norms in another culture. Bowing is a sign of respect here. I heard Dick Cheney make a comment that the president of the United States does not need to bow to anymore. I'm sure Obama didn't feel like he was subservient but instead wanted to represent our country as place where people understand other cultures and behavior, something other countries view Americans as notorious for not grasping or caring about.

Wafai.Dias said...

I have no clue about what's happening in Japan, China, Singapore and Korea, but I'd like to know. I'd like to be bothered with what he said and did in Asia instead of being told about this bow. This bow just shows respect. Although people in America may not know that much about the bow meaning respect, if all the bow means is respect then why get so worked up about it? Since he decided to do that then we as a society need to RESPECT that.

Nadirah said...

I personal do not think that President Obama was wrong when he bowed to the emperor of Japan. I look at it as a sign of respect. When entering someone's home or hometown it should be second nature to respect their cultural beliefs. And no, it is not a distraction the media just blew the situation out of proportion.

Dannaly Sam said...

I don't think there's anything wrong with President Obama bowing to Japan's emperor. Like many people have said, it's a sign of respect and courtesy when one follows another's customs in another's country. Many leaders have come to America and shook hands with leaders here, too. It may not be their custom to, but they did it because it was a reflection of respect. Also, one thing to add, this is news. Even though it may not be as relevant as Obama's speech while he was on the tour of Asia, it is still relevant in the sense that he is interacting with the emperor of a very important country that we're the U.S. is trying to further the relationship of (in terms w/Obama's speech).

Diana Cooper said...

I don't see the President bowing as a gesture that is wrong, I think he is doing it out of respect. If it was a person from the United States then that would be a different story, but since it's the emperor of Japan it's not really "OMG" news.

William Carlson said...

I agree that it is a sign of cultural understanding and shows an absence of the arrogance that has plagued our nation for many years. It is not the first time he has done this with foreign royalty. He did the same thing in Saudi Arabia a few months ago and people were flipping out about it in the media then, too. He didn't follow greeting protocols with the Queen of England and that was in the news as well. Do you think that he was more casual with her and Prince Philip because their culture is familiar to us (and we are allies)? After all, there are no major fences to be mended with England. I'm just throwing that out there to see what everyone thinks. I loathe all politicians and parties equally.

C.David Freitag said...

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

I'm glad that we all agree

It renews my hope in society

Que said...

I didn't know that President Obama was over in Asia on a tour. All I saw was this picture in the Philadelphia Metro free newspaper, and how the focus was on his mannerism towards the Japanese Emperor. Unfortunately, some of the republicans did not agree with what President Obama did. Keep respecting other cultures Obama!!!

Anonymous said...

FELICIA TOPSALE SAYS.............. I think the media should have spent more time talking baout why Obama was there and not about bowing during a greeting. After all this time, I'm still not aware of why he went or what was accomplished on his trip.

Jendayi said...

I believe that this story is a distraction for other important events that happened during the president's visit. The controversy overshadowed the importance of his visit. This incident was the center of the coverage. Also, the media covered this incident in negative way.They made the audience view it as a negative thing. They didn't allow the audience to decide for themselves.

Steph Ferretti said...

I think that if journalists wanted to cover a story about this, they should have talked about why he was visiting and what he was trying to accomplish. I personally didn't see what he did as disrespectful. There are more important events going on in the world that we should be paying more attention to.

Anonymous said...

What important things happened? Did anything come out of this trip?
Obama isn't in a Manners 101 class. He is the President of the United States. I wonder how Ahmadinejad or Putin feels about his bowing?
Paul Klein
(former J1111 student still hanging in there)