Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Meanwhile, back at the farm...

In Saturday's Dagens Næringsliv, there was a feature dealing with how difficult it is to cajole academics - and especially female academics - to appear in media to debate various and sundry issues in formats like Tabloid, Redaksjon 21 and so on.

No kidding. Personally, I can't fathom why people with actual skills would bother to show up for those types of televised debates, where your answer to a probably very generic question has to be in a bullet point format, and where your adversaries would include politicians who'd spend all their time plugging their party line and how they voted to increase science funding already back in 1665, etc. And for someone within physical and mathematical sciences, it would be even worse than for academics from the social sciences, because your ass would probably only get invited to debate in topics like "Is global warming a result of human activities" or such nonsense. For that particular topic, you'd be arguing with an "expert" dug up by the Progress Party or something, who claims to have evidence of global warming being completely natural and that nothing humanity has ever done has affected the climate. In all likelihood, this "expert" will have a PhD in something completely unrelated to the issue at hand, such as "welding two pieces of metal together" or something like that.

Someone very wise said: "Never argue with a fool or a drunk, because to an observer you'll probably look the same"

Anyway; as a sidebar to this feature, Christian Strand - host for NRK's talk show "Tonight" (I Kveld) - commented that younger women were easier to convince to get on his show than than older generations. As an example he mentioned Martine Aurdal - former Editor of Ny Tid and presently Political Journalist in Dagbladet - as an excellent debater of societal issues.

Excellent compared to whom?

Back in the local elections last year, there was a segment each Friday on Norwegian TV2 - in Tabloid or something - where a panel of experts summarized the main political battles of the week and announced what they meant to be the best politician of the week. This winning politician was never a local one despite this being a local election, but I've mentioned this before, so I'll move on. The aforementioned "expert panel" consisted of three individuals - one of them being Martine Aurdal. The names of the other two alleged experts elude me, I believe Marie Simonsen was one of them, but I could be wrong. Anyhoo; each and every week, Martine Aurdal would list all of the debates and conclude - for example - that the Labour Party (Arbeiderpartiet) got their asses soundly kicked in this or that debate, or vice versa. One thing didn't change however; together with the person I believe was Marie Simonsen, Aurdal was cackling on about how despite all of this, our Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg was this week's winner, because he was so handsome and looked so good in this or that outfit. The only other guy who won in their estimation was Jonas Gahr Støre, also because he looked so goshdarned cute. On the topic of the Conservative's leader Erna Solberg, Aurdal kept insisting that she "should've chosen a different outfit" and that her new look didn't become her. With regards to the Progress Party's leader Siv Jensen, whom most other commentators had as a clear winner in at least 50% of her debates with the Prime Minister, Aurdal kept mentioning that she looked so angry and not feminine enough. So much for girl power.

Martine Aurdal is an expert at anything besides selling her resume? Don't piss on my leg and tell me it's raining.


Anders said...

I read this piece as well, and thought "so what"? I know this makes me look like a grumpy, old man, but still: TV debates aren't what they used to be. NRK help back for the "infotainment" format that TV2 and such had for a long time, but now it's all the same. And, does anybody watch I Kveld with Christian Strand? It must have an alltime low rating for NRK.

So, back to my inital comment: "So what"? I've basically given up.

Wilhelm said...

It is kind of disheartening, because unless there are debate shows I'm not aware of on the major networks, they all have adapted to the soundbyte format of discussion. Which pretty much means that there are no real debates being conducted on the major media platform of television