The internet will be the primary public medium of communication within five years. Presently it's doing quite well. Though mainly a middle-class toy right now, it'll gradually become affordable for the working-class as well. But who wants to wait? I don't, anymore. A short time ago the only way I could access the mysterious advertisement-filled, pornography-pushing internet was by going to my public-library branch. Then, miracle of miracles, a friend of mine gave (!) me some older equipment which enabled my present at-home access. No graphics capability. Oh, well.
Not only is the internet mildly interesting, it also has the most potential of any previous medium of communication for being a truly democratic forum. No corporate-owned media gate-keepers on the internet! Well, not many anyway. There's always those "domain" folks, bless their hearts. Given that the internet is the greatest thing to hit the media since that commentator-less New York Jets game back in 1976, any public person who ignores this medium does so at their peril. Which brings me to the "headline" of this week's column. There are several big-time internet sites devoted almost entirely to Tonya M. Harding. These sites, such as the one you're plugged into now, are managed by competent and professionally-minded people who dedicate their considerable talent and many hours presenting Tonya in an objective or positive light. That's excellent, but there's one ingredient missing: Tonya. Where is Tonya on the internet? The guy who operated her "official" internet fan club turned out to be yet another gold-digging confidence artist, reminding me of her ex-husbands, ex-managers and ex-boyfriends. So where's the Tonya Harding fan club now? Nowhere, not even off the internet. Sure, she's right in appearing on every talk-format broadcast program she can; and even Tonya's print-media articles have been, well, somewhat more sympathetic than in previous years. And, given the fact that most people haven't in-home internet access, it's understandable if Tonya's media-energies are used up on older technologies. But, geez, can't she appoint or establish an "official" site? The world turns; and the period of mourning for her previous site is over. Somebody surely exists who would constantly monitor the internet and produce effective strategies for counter-acting the defamations Tonya continues to receive via such luminaries as Morry Stillwell on the official site of suck-ups to the United States Figure Skating Association. What about the Friends of Tonya Harding site? How about the Portland Ice Skating Club? Or the Blades of Gold site? Or the David House site? Or the Charlie Main site? Maybe a whole new site presided over by Tonya herself! But come on, folks: there needs to be an official Tonya fan club site somewhere with regular Tonya input. Tonya's on a roll right now with her career and her public image, yet time's a-wastin'. But know this: no fan club or site will be effective for Tonya unless it is run professionally. By that I mean, by people who are expert in graphics presentation as well as writing; people who will insist the site be regularly updated; people who constantly surf the world-wide web sampling the waters; media-savvy people; and especially, people who have Tonya's confidence and can talk directly to her when they need to, with no middle-people acting as off-putting filters. And, getting back to this column's headline, Tonya herself must provide regular and reliable input in the form of expressing her opinions. Even if she doesn't realize it, Tonya cuts an attractive and sympathetic figure. She can be as charming as a Southern gal at a coming-out party, and her abilities, skills and talents in figure skating guarantee (provided she trains constantly) her continued success in the sport. I like her, Tonyaphiles like her, kids especially like her. The public want to like her, if only they knew where to find her in order to do so. Hey, what's the problem?

Editor's note: I disagree with Joe on this issue. I think the de-centralized approach has been effective and has given people from all over the world easy access to Tonya information, without getting the "Fan Club" sales pitch. The "official" fan clubs I've seen on the web seem to increase the distance between the athlete and the spectator, while pushing a "party line" so sweet it threatens to rot your teeth.
On the other hand, I do agree that more Tonya input is needed. The Tonya sites out there could be utilized to greater advantage by Tonya. The sites have proven to be fair and trustworthy. They should be publicized by Tonya.