I’ve done it. I’ve found a way to capitalize on Linsanity, right here in this little journal about business change.
In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last couple of weeks, Linsanity is a now-being-contested-as-a-trademarked-word referring to a young man who plays basketball for the New York Knicks. Jeremy Lin, for any number of reasons, has turned not just the world of professional basketball but many far-flung cultural touch points on their ears. Linsanity, indeed.
Linsanity has gotten so crazy that when I ran into a neighbor after Mr. Lin’s Knicks lost a game a couple of nights ago we found ourselves discussing something that as a couple of old guys we have some perspective on: we couldn’t remember the last time we knew (as we currently do) the Knicks’ upcoming game schedule.
I’ll bet you’re wondering how I’m going to make a story about business change from Linsanity.
One of the subjects I write about from time to time is the changing face of journalism. Twitter changes journalism, and journalists need to start engaging better with their readers, for example. And as business change moves through pretty much every business this is just one example of how many places journalism and business change intersect.
Half-fleshed-out ideas don’t deserve to be called “journalism”. And neither do stories that merely allude to facts rather than lay them out.
Part of the story behind Linsanity is that Jeremy Lin is of Asian descent, and while several Asians have made it to the NBA before the people who are experts in these things believe Jeremy Lin to be the first American-born Asian to get to the NBA.
And Jeremy Lin isn’t a person of many mixed ethnicities, one of which happens to have originated on the Asian continent. Jeremy Lin looks Asian. He has an Asian name. Linsanity is so far-reaching that his close relatives in Taiwan are besieged with attention everywhere they go. It’s Linsane!
After that Knicks loss, several employees at ESPN made a big mistake. In describing events and looking for clever headlines, the phrase “chink in the armor” was used. Or perhaps it was “Chink in the armor”. The former is an apt way of describing a flaw in a theretofore-perfect system, while the latter is a racial slur.
Racial slurs are not OK. And discipline—albeit uneven discipline—was meted out against the ESPN employees who used the phrase. Jeremy Lin, as he has with everything else that’s happened around him during Linsanity, was calm and rational, stating “I don’t think it was on purpose … they’ve apologized. I don’t care anymore.”
And then the use of the phrase became one more element of Linsanity.
Saturday Night Live, as is their wont, made fun of the episode:
The New York Times and CNN, on the other hand, reported on the ethno-racial element of Linsanity by refusing to discuss the matter openly.
I had hopes when CNN ran this piece, including the offensive “Chink in The Armor” phrase. I had needed to seek that piece out, though, after first reading this piece in The New York Times. The Times piece told the story, but in the interest of being politically correct was delivered in such a way as to deprive readers of the information they needed to judge the issue being reported on.
That’s journalism? I say not. Moreover, because the issue (here, anyway) is business change, let’s be frank: The New York Times forced its readers to seek out a version of the story they were reporting on, elsewhere, from a competitor.
Sadly, CNN, while willing to put the words “Chink in the Armour” on their website, got squeamish when it came to their televised newscast on the subject. By the time Soledad O’Brien reported on the story this morning, full sanitization had taken hold. And yet, interestingly, Ms. O’Brien says both that the matter is worth understanding and that viewers should “go Google it”:
Business change is difficult to deal with, and certainly at this point I’ve had just about enough Linsanity. But you’d think that news outlets and journalistic outposts would understand that in order to tell the stories they’re reporting on they need to tell the stories they’re reporting on.
This is … well, it’s Linsane.