10.14.2011 01:20 PM
McAdams On: I am One of You
REGULATIONNOT WALL STREET: Let’s start with journalism school. I often invoke journalism school because I went to one. On my own dime. As an adult. Planting trees and shrubs for a living. What they failed to inform me was that journalism school was an idealistic reflection of a bygone era that would have no resemblance whatsoever to the industry in which I would seek employ. And that I would start out making less than I earned digging holes with a shovel. And so yes, I am bitter, but that’s also my natural disposition.

Contrary to popular belief and substantial evidence otherwise, journalism majors are generally very smart people, yours truly notwithstanding. My school required at least one other major or two minors in addition to journalism. That’s because journalists have to comprehend everything they encounter and boil it down to 500 or fewer words. “Welcome to the
Grass Valley Union. Please give us an update on the county’s failed municipal bond. Don’t expect overtime.” However, the beauty of journalism, practiced traditionally, is the opportunity to learn from experts. I doubt that bond attorneys would have jumped at the chance to answer my calls when I was a farm wife.

But I digress, like I do after 5:30 a.m. phone calls with remarkably optimistic engineers who believe I will eventually grasp what they are saying. It must be like when the rest of us are talking to a dog.

So journalism school, yes. There’s this thing about objectivity, and the diligent guardianship thereof. Consequently, though one is driving an oil-burning Ford F-150 and dividing ketchup packets for soup, one must not accept the dazzling array of gifts and electronics and sandwiches one is offered. OK, fine. One is not so materialistic in the first place, so one will live.

But one is also not supposed to act on or express political or personal opinions. Seriously. They taught us that. There was even an open-ended question as to whether we should vote, as if journalism were a felony. The main point was to constantly monitor our objectivity. E.g., It’s probably OK to vote if I’m writing obits. Not so much if I’ve got the White House beat.

The problem, however, with self-monitoring is that the capacity for rationalization varies wildly among individuals. I think every person alive has stepped over the line of integrity. Some may recognize it and discover it’s not worth the violation of their conscience. Others may justify and bury it; others still may feel pretty smart for “getting by” with something. That’s just the spectrum of human nature.

That’s why lines are drawn, and why it’s important for journalists and readers to identify the difference between reporting and opinion. I know I dance on both sides of that line quite a bit. I would argue that the Internet is quite a different animal to feed, but that would be a cop out. Sometimes I just can’t help but throw my two cents in, and trust that it’s obvious.

Not that anyone appreciates that or cares. My apologies in that respect. Sometimes its a coping mechanism, as I imagine it was for Jamie Wilson, the KPTV-TV Fox 12 reporter traversing the innertubes this week for telling Occupy Portland protesters, “I am one of you,” while the cameras rolled.

“I have student loans, I can’t get out of debt, I have a ridiculously high-priced college education, and my real-world job has not given me the salary to pay it off. I became a young homeowner, because it was a dream, and now my home has tanked in value, and I’m still behind on the mortgage . . . I feel your pain.”

I haven’t come across anything about how Jamie’s news director reacted to her rant, which is now posted on YouTube. I was entertained and informed. Cable networks have made a killing in opinion journalism with so-called “talking heads” who are paid exorbitant salaries. Maybe there’s a place in local news for the “candid reporter.”

Few businesses are as opaque as news organizations. Maybe there’s a place for transparency alongside objectivity. I know I’d like to hear what news people are really thinking. I already have a handle on the weather.

~ Deborah D. McAdams

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Posted by: Deborah McAdams
Sat, 10-15-2011 12:10 AM Report Comment
Excellent rant,Ms. McAdams. One could respond by discussing how the cost of your 'ridiculously high-priced college education' has been enormously exacerbated by various governments tossing around grant/loan/scolarship cash like beads at Mardi Gras. But the crux of your diatribe seems to be the horrible dearth of polemic-free reportage in 21st century America, and I heartily endorse your opinion. Ed R. Murrow is long dead; so is Walter Cronkite. And none of their heirs seems remotely interested in non-subjective reporting. Which is why I stopped watching TV news long ago, and will likely not return until my dotage, when I suspect I wan't be allowed to touch the remote. -pb
Posted by: Deborah McAdams
Sun, 10-16-2011 01:59 AM Report Comment
No, you're not me, Ms. Fox News Reporter. I am retired, don't have a personal hair and makeup artist, and live on $900 a month Social Security, which will probably be pulled if enough of your ilk is elected. -BD
Posted by: Deborah McAdams
Sun, 10-16-2011 05:38 PM Report Comment
Retired commenter~I can confidently assure you she has neither a personal make-up artist nor a hair stylist, and a significant portion of her check is being paid into Social Security, from which she is unlikely to benefit, nor is it likely that she will ever be able to retire. ~ McAdams
Posted by: Deborah McAdams
Mon, 10-17-2011 03:02 PM Report Comment
As I read it, BD is confusing the local Fox TV station with the conservative Fox News cable operation. Then again, it should be confusing: The broadcast and cable operations are both called "Fox", but they hit different points on the political spectrum.... ;-)
Posted by: Deborah McAdams
Fri, 10-14-2011 02:56 PM Report Comment
Imagine if she'd said that at at Tea Party demonstration.... ;-)
Posted by: Deborah McAdams
Fri, 10-14-2011 03:14 PM Report Comment
As I told someone once, for every Bob and Tom, for every Howard, there's legions of poor schlubs ping local spots into the Cubs games for $7.50 an hour, and plenty of guys toiling behind the racks for $40,000 a year. So for every Wolf Blitzer or Katie Couric there's a brazillian Jamie Wilsons. Broadcast "journalism" is objective, as long as it is pleasing to the eyes and ears of the big corporations that own it.
Posted by: Deborah McAdams
Fri, 10-14-2011 04:40 PM Report Comment
TV news (and most news in general) has long lost its objectivity for a variety of reasons. First and foremost was the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine; some may argue it prevented a free and open exchange of opinion (hence the plethora of so-called cable "news" networks that followed, each with their own particular slant. But what the Fairness doctrine did do is keep people from being irresponsible with their reporting. Call it a conscience mandate if you will in that if you took too wide a swipe at someone or something, you owed it to provide an equal amount of coverage with the other point-of-view. Wow! What a concept!! Fairness!! But... folks argued that no one had the time (read:money) to allow for such discourse. Sure maybe not in 1990 but now with a gazillion cable / satellite channels and constant repeats / reruns of so-called "News" programs... makes ya wonder why anyone objected to the F.D. in the first place. The commercialization of "opinion news" is the other reason news has lost its objectivity. Years ago...only CBS caught heat as a network news organization that had particular bias towards news stories... (i.e. Middle East affairs coverage). Now... it's open season on anyone & anything pro or con. (If her reality series succeeded you might've seen a Sarah Palin channel). Government regulation wasn't such a bad thing as far as TV information / programming was concerned. I'm not talking censorship... I'm talking level the playing field. But with deregulation....the opposite has happened to where only those with the money rule the airwaves and the "news". Forget the local news.... the only thing local about it is sports & weather and the occasional police story or car-crash. Everything & everyone is repeating each other. It's a quagmire and a vast wasteland.

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