Sunday, August 27, 2006


I wish that the good folks at C-SPAN would maintain an online archive of every minute of video they air. I wish they'd make it all searchable and downloadable. It drives me crazy when I catch a really good talk on Book TV, and I get totally absorbed in it, but it's so dense with information and wisdom I feel the need to go back and listen again (or, better still, I wish I could take it to Central and play it for the debate squad), but I can't, because it's vanished into the cable vapors.

Happened this weekend. Yesterday, I caught former CNN bureau chief Charlayne Hunter-Gault talking about her book New News Out of Africa: Uncovering Africa's Renaissance. And today I heard a blistering speech delivered by Michael Eric Dyson, to promote his recent Come Hell or High Water: Hurricane Katrina and the Color of Disaster.

Wish I could have them both for keeps. But fragments are all I possess.

Hunter-Gault admonished the Western media for only focusing on the negative in Africa. She said we love to parachute into Africa when something horrible is happening. But then when Africans start to find solutions to their problems, we think the stories are done, and we pack up and go home. The problem with this, she said, is that we miss opportunities to learn from Africa. Case in point: in the years since apartheid, now that the journalists have mostly moved on, that country has been breaking a lot of ground in affirmative action and racial reconciliation -- ground we couldn't quite reach. Why aren't we following this story? Her answer seemed to be, at least in part, that we're letting our preconceptions guide us instead of "coming in straight." In other words, we already know what the story is on Africa: It's a place of misery and turmoil. Stories that don't fit this framework simply aren't seen.

And Dyson's speech was a tour de force. Man, I wish I had an Mpeg of it so I could play it for the debate squad. He would be such a great debater, the way he rattles off such dense prose without a script. He covered so much territory it was impossible to remember all but the tiniest pieces of it. I got the main thrust, of course -- its message of rage at the racism that mires our nation. For a while I had my laptop on my lap, hoping to type quotes to share with you all, but he spoke so fast, and I was so mesmerized, I couldn't really get anything down. I was hoping I could find a link onlinr, to share it all with you, but...

Come on, Mr. Lamb! Let us search and download.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think cspan has most of their shows available online. For book Tv go to