Sunday, February 22, 2009

Man plans to row Atlantic again. Press dutifully provides publicity.

It probably sounds churlish to raise questions about the honorable effort by Victor Mooney, who lost one brother to AIDS and has another who's HIV-positive, to make a second attempt to row across the Atlantic Ocean to increase awareness of AIDS and--an added crusade--of global warming.

But the news coverage of Mooney’s effort has been shallow, and it dismays me that Mooney gets into the papers, while the press ignores much more important stories about institutional and governmental behavior like the closing of the Carlton Avenue bridge and New York University’s absorption of Polytechnic University.

After all, once Mooney got a lot of press in 2006, his effort lasted just three hours, given that his handmade boat started leaking and eventually sunk. In 2007, he announced a second effort, to launch later that year, which wound up being delayed more than a year.

But he got publicity at the time, announcing that he’d be honoring Barclays Center on the bow of his next boat. That seems to have died down considerably, and Forest City Ratner no longer seems to be contributing an "Atlantic Yards Boathouse."

Much missing in coverage

But this week Mooney held another press conference, and the New York Times and the Daily News, among others, dutifully complied--albeit with major gaps in their stories. Nobody mentioned Barclays. Nobody mentioned that Mooney’s preferred method--as reported in 2006--to avoid AIDS is abstinence, not condoms.

Nobody noticed the grandiosity on Mooney’s Goree Challenge II web site, which claims:
Billions will again follow Victor Mooney's journey across the Atlantic Ocean; thereby, providing a educational platform for learning about health, math, science, history, financial literacy and the environment.

And nobody noticed a complication: his boat, the Spirit of Zayed, is named for the former president of the United Arab Emirates, a place where homosexual acts are punished with long prison terms.

Raising money

Mooney would be the first African-American to row across the ocean. He still needs $50,000 to pay his expenses, and the free publicity surely didn’t hurt. His web site states:
Money raised after the cost of Goree Challenge II - Rowing for Change, will benefit AIDS Charities worldwide.

He claims that in the first attempt, Goree Challenge I, sponsorship information was seen worldwide via television, print, radio and web content and had an Equivalent Advertising Value of $5 million over a three-year period.

I doubt that calculation.

I wonder whether, instead of focusing on AIDS and global warming, Mooney might do even more good by dedicating his effort to to getting the United Arab Emirates to change its laws on sodomy.

I doubt that will happen. As the Times reported:
Mr. Mooney, who visited the U.A.E. two years ago, said he had not received money from the emirates, but would not mind if he did.

1 comment:

  1. Don't forget that Mooney built his handmade craft in a building donated by the ever-generous Ratner. (By 2006 Ratner owned the garage at 814 Pacific St.) Mooney commandeered two PacItAway Storage lift vehicles to hoist his boat onto a flatbed truck. Then The Queen Mother, from Harlem, blessed the boat w. a bottle of Poland Spring Water.
    After Mooney's 2006 3-hr Misadventure-on-the-Atlantic, Ratner demolished 814 Pacific.

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