Monday, January 24, 2011

ALA, The Today Show, and Award Winners

I know I'm a little late to this game, but it's taken me a while to gather my thoughts and put them into words.

For those who don't know what I'm talking about... The week before last, the Newbery and Caldecott award winners were announced. In years past (for the past ten years or so, I think), the winners have been interviewed briefly on The Today Show. Well, this year, that didn't happen. Instead, The Today Show chose to interview Snooki, the star of a reality TV show.

There was much uproar in the kidlit world after this, and rumors spread wide and far that The Today Show bumped the award winners for Snooki due to 'lack of interest.' After some clarification, we learned that this wasn't true. Instead, The Today Show simply said 'no' to interviewing the winners. So, instead of a bump, it was a flat out rejection. I don't know about you, but I find that to be worse... The SCBWI made a formal response, and encouraged others to do the same.

The Today Show is defending itself by saying it promotes books more than any other show on TV. They do have some great promotions, such as Al's Book Club for Kids. But the fact that they're the only person promoting books so much saddens me. And the fact that the winners were just plain turned down for an interview? Well, that depresses me.

But I'm also coming at this from the perspective of a writer for kids and teens, and I can't count how many times people have asked or suggested that I write for kids because I can't 'make it' in the adult world. I'm sorry, but that's a load of crap. I write for kids because I want to, and because it's FAR more challenging than most people think. It's really irritating when people pity me because they think I can't do any better. This inherent lack of respect is perpetuated by rejecting the request to interview award winning children's authors, and then I hear about it again from people who don't know the business. Grrr!!

*deep breath* Moving on...

So, yes, The Today Show does promote books. And, yes, it does so more than any other show out there. But, the real question is this: why? Why aren't there more people talking about all the great books that children's and teen literature has to offer? There are plenty of parents and teachers looking for great books, so why not spotlight the best of the best? Only good can come from that.

If we lived in a perfect world, this is what I would love to see happen. Book trailers right next to movie trailers in the theater (has happened for a few books so far, but I'd love to see a lot more). An amazing segment with interviews and excerpts from award winning authors' books. News coverage on those authors--Newbery, Caldecott, Printz, National Book Award, Man Booker Prize, Pulitzer (this already gets some coverage, but it'd be great to have more), and other national or worldwide awards. Book-of-the-Week spotlights for midlist authors. And more.

I know some of this already happens, and most of it won't happen anytime soon. But, hey, it's good to dream. :)


Tere Kirkland said...

Wow, I had no idea this happened. Just one step closer to Idiocracy, right? Thanks for letting me know.

I'm not sure if the ire would have been less if they had interviewed someone, well, NOT Snooki?


Kathryn Packer Roberts said...

I agree. I think it is really sad that they would look to a reality TV show over something more honorable, like books for entertainment. If we want to make this world a better place we need to pay attention to more important things.

Anonymous said...

Book trailers in movie theaters! YES! I completely agree. I'm not even going to comment on the Snooki issue because I'd go on forever. I'll just say I agree with you there, too.

Logan E. Turner said...

I would love to see more book trailers at movie theaters! The only ones I've seen are for established series, and wouldn't it be grand to see one for a book or author no one had heard about before then?

PS - There's a giveaway where commenters have to talk about their inspiration, so I linked to you! You can check out the post here. See you tomorrow!

Tabitha said...

Tere - I'm not sure. The Snooki thing added gasoline to an already healthy flame. :) To me, the rejection feels like a slap in the face. There was no discussion about rescheduling or anything. They just said 'no.' So sad.

Kathryn - You're so right. I think the fault was on the person who was supposed to schedule the interviews as well as The Today Show. The scheduler should have booked this interview well in advance, and The Today Show could have offered to do the interview at a later date. This could have been handled SO much better.

Tabitha said...

Kelly - I have *loved* the book trailers I've seen in the theater so far. Some of them are really good, so there's no reason they can't be next to movie trailers.

Logan - aww, thank you!! That was really sweet, what you said. I'm blushing... :) And I would TOTALLY love to see a trailer for an author I've never heard of. I'll bet other people would, too, and they'd probably go check it out to find out what the hubub was about. :) See you tomorrow!!

Nina Mansfield said...

If only we lived in a perfect world! I followed the Today Show news when it came out, and I was pretty disturbed by it. Like most people, I too assumed that the award winners had been snubbed in favor of Snooki. But whatever the reason, it is still disturbing. Sadly, the Today Show's world is dictated by ratings. What does it say about our society that a reality TV star will guarantee higher ratings than two literary award winners?

Tabitha said...

It says quite a lot, and all of it's pretty sad.

Anonymous said...

They want to promote what they see as money makers. And for her 15 minutes of fame, she's making a lot.

Like it or not, we live a society that rewards those make the most noise. And kidlit, unless the book is over the top controversial, isn't doing that.

And that just makes me sad. Our kids are making those connections and we have to work really hard to promote the idea that perseverance is a good thing...and hard work yields good results (internally and externally). I just hope the Today show and other industry folks take a step back, do some thinking and try to reverse the trend.


Jennifer R. Hubbard said...

I actually don't want to comment on the Today Show (at least not directly), but about another issue you raised:
"I can't count how many times people have asked or suggested that I write for kids because I can't 'make it' in the adult world."

Comeback: "Surely you're not suggesting that writing for children--contributing to their literacy and education--is somehow an inferior occupation? I like investing in the future leaders of our world. I think it's extremely important."

Beth S. said...

This makes me so angry that people with talent are brushed aside for talentless idiots like Snooki - that's right, I said it! Snooki is an idiot and we are a society that's celebrating buffoons. It makes me so irritated.