bloggin' all things brownsville

Sunday, June 22, 2008

He Said/She Said: El Rocinante


This is the first installment of a weekly project between blogger Roman Perez and I entitled, "He Said/She Said." The rules are simple. A mutual topic will be chosen. We will each provide our perspective on a topic, which neither of us will see until it is posted on our respective blogs. We hope you enjoy our differring, or possibly, similar takes on the chosen topics.

First topic up: El Rocinante. This is my She-said take.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I remember first meeting Jerry McHale when I was editor of The Collegian at UTB-TSC back in 1998, or so. Sporting a guayabera and holding a stack of yellow sheets, he hands me one, “Here you go, kid.”

El Rocinante, it read, along with breaking news or the news behind the news one wouldn’t find some “Pencil” digging his nose around or some “Hairspray” enunciating off some television prompter. For you non-journalistic nuts, one who writes for a newspaper is a “Pencil,” and one who pounds on the make-up and Aquanet for TV news is a “Hairspray.”

No one uses those terms anymore. They’ve gone by the wayside, and they seem to have become as passé as those hard-hitting, muckraking times now replaced with what sells: Blood and guts, sex and gossip and agenda-filled propaganda. Investigative news once driven by a writer demanding justice and good government is a rarity in these here parts.

Back to 1998 … My discovering that yellow sheet – perhaps a color appropriately chosen to reflect today’s El Rocinante for its scandal mongering, sensationalism and sex-sales approach, not so much back in the day – sparked a new direction for me as a journalist.

Although just a rookie reporter at a university that didn’t even have a journalism or communications program, I fervently pushed aside the stenographic reporting of the usual story -- “SGA President Selected” or “Financial Aid Available,” or “New Building Opens.” I began to dig.

Yes, those stories inform, but I wanted to help. I soon wrote stories on UTB-TSC President Juliet Garcia’s salary and perks including a taxpayer-funded housekeeper. I wrote stories on how the necessity for pretty buildings replaced that of the necessity for sufficient programs and additional financial aid for our students. My supervisor and mentor, Azenett Cornejo, repeatedly had to defend my right – even as a runt journalist – to write such pieces. When administration decried, “How dare she,” she dared me to be greater.

I officially became a watchdog-in-training. El Rocinante even picked up on a couple of my Collegian articles, and I was honored.

And, I continued my watchdog stance as The Brownsville Herald's city editor and as a blogger, today.

But times have since changed. Coffee shops and lounges once bustling with the loud chatter of El Rocinante’s investigative, hard-hitting pieces are simply careful whispers. Folks are now reading and talking about it in the privacy of their homes, mostly because of its tranformation into its so-called art-filled smut talk.

I have been criticized before for responding to content on El Rocinante. How can you read that stuff, I’m told. But how do folks know I respond if they aren't avid readers?

Get real, folks. You read it, just as I do.

Still, I miss the old El Rocinante that once inspired me to expose corruption, denounce apathy and encourage civic engagement. Every once in a while I find a nugget of news posted by one of the many writers of El Rocinante. However, even that’s difficult to appreciate when I’m hit with a vagina taking up my entire computer screen complemented with libel, defamation and trash-talk submitted by anonymous cowards directed at friends, including myself.

Yeah, yeah free speech, art and all that hoopla, but must that come at the expense of good, solid journalism?

I used to rush to meet El Rocinante's editor during my Collegian days. I admired his intestinal fortitude. Now, I want to join the masses so to kick him where he keeps his intestinal fortitude.

To read Roman Perez's "He Said" on the topic, visit his blog at rgvusa.blogspot.com.


23 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You mean?

http://rgvusa.blogspot.com/


why bother with this spat?

JC

Sunday, June 22, 2008  
Blogger Melissa Zamora said...

I don't quite understand your comment.

Sunday, June 22, 2008  
Blogger Melissa Zamora said...

I see it now, it's been fixed. Thx.

Sunday, June 22, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've only known El Rocinante in its current online form; but if, in ER's previous manifestation, he took the time to print and distribute copies in person, I can only assume that he genuinely wanted to stir his readers to effect positive change in local politics. Unfortunately, I think El Rocinante has fallen victim to the law of diminishing returns--the more outrageous and obscene the comments, the less credible they seem and the less influence they exert. What might've given him an edge in holding his readers' attention, taken to excess, now makes his blog easy to dismiss.

What's worse, I think it fosters the kind of apathy that he might've initially wanted to challenge.

Patricia A.

Sunday, June 22, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad your former blog template is back, and I'm definitely glad the old 'Comments' format is back!

Patricia A.

Sunday, June 22, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

About the comment. Why feed the quarrel? But I now see that rgvusa thinks this is a good idea also. No prob, it's you all's blog. I came back soon to see if you fixed the link so what's that make me? Keep up the good work and cool music.

*from dictionary.die.net
spat n 1: petty quarrel [syn: bicker, bickering, tiff, squabble, fuss]

Johnny C

Sunday, June 22, 2008  
Blogger BobbyWC said...

This is going to shock people but I do not necessarily have a problem with the pictures. Mapplethorpe's photo exhibit was shut down, and until this day the pictures cannot be found on the internet, because they were deemed obscene.

He was the most brilliant photo artist of our time. One of the more controvertial photos was of a poor girl somewhere in the mountains of Virginia. She was covered in filth. While squatting down her vagina was exposed.

The political message in the photo was the obscenity in the poverty of a child in the US and not the photo itself. Sometimes these photos are needed to shock people into caring or seeing reality.

But here is the problem, if you go to Mapplethorpe's web page you must click on a consent to view controversial photos before you are redirected. (and in fact they are very tamed) This is an important tool because it allows the filters used to protect children to keep children away from the photos.

I would love to teach a course on the social commentary of Mapplethorpe through his photos - but even in universities it is barred - and this is wrong -

War is hell and I hate people who portray it as anything but hell. I have a grandnephew who has done 2 tours as a medic - what he cannot get out of his head is the number of dead children - you would not know this by the news coverage. If showing dead children will get the message across -then I say show dead children

So even these photos are necessary to insure the full story is told - but again there needs to be a way to filter these pictures from children - the children do not need to see the pictures - but every adult needs to see the pictures

On human rights grounds I am anti-abortion. In Dallas the anti-abortion groups display the pictures around town every so often. I think in the end they only frustated people and never really helped their argument.

I always found them to be offensive and denounced their use as counter productive

The line between counter productive and legitimate when it comes to photos of nudes, sex, or violence is not a line I am prepared to draw - I think it is an individual thing

My only issue is some type filtering so that parents who are responsible enough to have filters on their computers will be able to protect their children from viewing these photos. At this time, parents are simply left to be shocked when their children come upon these photos.

It is simply a question of child access and a lack of the codes which allow filters to block the web page in the cases of parents who have activated the filtering system.

freedom of speech is more than the right to speak it is also the right to not have to hear what offends you - parents should have this right -

Bobby WC

Sunday, June 22, 2008  
Blogger Melissa Zamora said...

BWC,

If you were ask me what El Rocinante's post accompanied by the woman's female body part was about, I couldn't tell you. I was just shocked to see that photo, and others, that my attention was diverted aways from the context of the post(s).

Another problem, as you pointed out, is the filter ER should have. If my child does a generic Brownsville search, she could easily come across ER.

I believe there's a law somewhere that requires obscene blogs to have such filters or warning prior to reading the blog.

Sunday, June 22, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

bloggers,

If I considered a run at city council or Mayor as a simple citizen, what are the chances?

What are the stakes,is it worth it?

M.Leinart

Sunday, June 22, 2008  
Blogger Melissa Zamora said...

Is this M. Leinart who heads up our Cameron County Jail System?

Sunday, June 22, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes it is! Me..

Sunday, June 22, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

PS...

Options are open, we need change and we have the numbers. Anyone call me.

MLEINART

Sunday, June 22, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I considered a run at city council or Mayor as a simple citizen, what are the chances?

Well, if you live in District 3 or 4, you're in luck because they're up for election in May 2009. Also up for election is Commissioner At-large "B", currently held by Leo T. Garza.

I think most of us would welcome a new crop of candidates if they showed initiative and offered some concrete ideas on how to move Brownsville forward.

Patricia A.

Sunday, June 22, 2008  
Blogger BobbyWC said...

"The line between counter productive and legitimate when it comes to photos of nudes, sex, or violence is not a line I am prepared to draw - I think it is an individual thing"

As to the photo you referenced I personally just moved away from the entire web page - I was not horrified by the picture but by the idea a child could see it without parental supervision.

Just because I was offended does not mean there are not people out there who cannot get beyond the picture and to the point which was being made - it is not for me to impose my lens of the world on others and assume they see the same thing. My personal limitations is not a basis to judge another on such issues.

Mapplethorpe did a series of sexual nudes with men - if you study them carefully you will see they have nothing to do with sex, and everything to do with the human psyche and emotions - they are quite powerful - yes the fisting was shocking - but once you got beyond that you were able to see a very very powerful message about trust, love, dependency, dominance, human intimacy in all of its glory - it is truly amazing how what offends all of a sudden disappears from your eyes and you are seeing things which make you realize just how little sex has to do with true intimacy - now that is not a bad message - most people will never learn the message through his photo essays because they never even try to see beyond the immediate picture and into the message -

I find it curious how when our personal lens says filth it must be filth and the fact the photo really is about true human intimacy which is anything but filth is lost in the perverted or limited lense of the viewer.

But again I do not know where that line is - I am just offering this up for discussion. My issue was the filter for children

Bobby WC

Monday, June 23, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if we are just talking about the pictures on ER or if you were also referring to the content. I think the posts on that website are laughable and a far cry from hard hitting journalism. I do log in to read every so often but it is purely for entertainment purposes. I always assumed that was the point. Is ER seriously trying to inform me about issues?

Monday, June 23, 2008  
Blogger Melissa Zamora said...

Yes, the filter is a big issue for me, too, but there's also no filter for the libelous material that gets posted either.

it is not for me to impose my lens of the world on others and assume they see the same thing

Easier said than done. What is your purpose in blogging, then?

Monday, June 23, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mapplethorpe was a perve - And yes, I've looked at some of his photos through an "artistic" lens.

McHale is a perve - I've tried to read his posts with an open mind. He's a perve.

Monday, June 23, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
PS...

Options are open, we need change and we have the numbers. Anyone call me.

MLEINART

from annony,
you and anyone is welcome to run, but if you study biology the problem is in the
coccus shaped bacteria.

We need a heavy dosage of Antibiotics to contain it, or eradicate it (the bacteria).

Tuesday, June 24, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Melissa
Let's find Eddie Lucio home and take a picture of it. Show the people of Brownsville how we too can live in a million dollar home earning $10,000 a year. Lucio can give seminars to citizens. He'll be our hero.

Friday, August 15, 2008  
Blogger Melissa Zamora said...

I heard it's a beautiful home.

Saturday, August 16, 2008  
Anonymous Patricio Trevino said...

Those Comments are too MUCH BORING... WE need much , more COURAGE, if We Really need for Things to Change!!!

Sunday, November 08, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would appreciate more visual materials, to make your blog more attractive, but your writing style really compensates it. But there is always place for improvement

Saturday, March 13, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Abook review of EL CABRON a fable about sex, drugs & politics in Brownsville, Texas, by G.F. McHale-Scully.
Life was uncomplicated. Life was about right now, today.... manana?... quien sabe.... no importa. Dale gas!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012  

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