Why Iâ€™m Ashamed to be a Journalist
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree of Contrast.
Among my various educational Â credentials, Â I have a journalism degree. Â I rarely Â tell Â anyone. Â Can you Â blame me?
Iâ€™d started college with a major in music and journalism, eventually switching around and adding English and marketing Â to the mix, and possibly even French at one time. But hey, I was on a four-year scholarship and Iâ€™d decided to pack in as much as I could. Iâ€™d spent my high school years with the role models on TVâ€™s â€œLou Grant,â€ a Â show about Â a Â small Â group Â of Â newspaper Â journalists withâ€”GASP!â€”integrity and objectivity. When I went to college, just as CNN was launched and broadcast journalism was the new rock star career everybody wanted, journalism was not yet about slants and commentary and sensationalism. Â It was about the facts, all of them, whether we as journalists liked them or not.
In those days, a fledging TV reporter covered a local traffic Â accident with a weighty camera Â on her shoulder and captured footage of a bloody baby shoe in the grass. She told me she cut the zoom-in on the Â baby shoe because Â it Â was Â sensational Â and Â she Â wouldnâ€™t Â want her grandma to see it and be upset. Nowadays, a bloody baby shoe would not only be examined up close for maximum impact, but it would be turned into a logo at the bottom of a 24-hour news screen to give the latest news on the â€œBloody Baby Shoe Tragedyâ€ with hourly updates.
There is no such thing as objectivity left in the news. Itâ€™s all about fear and condemnationâ€”and inciting both.
I watch Â precious Â little Â TV Â anymore. Â I Â didnâ€™t Â even know about Saddamâ€™s execution until I heard it from a fellow blogger. And Iâ€™m generally a lot happier without the news and its sky-is-falling effects. Literally. I watched TV with the girls on ChristmasÂ Eve and was utterly dismayed by the upcoming Â TV show where top scientists would Â be Â asked Â to Â name Â their Â worst Â fears Â and Â whatâ€™s most likely going to take out our planet and which asteroids we really need to be worrying about (as if worrying about an asteroid is going to do us any good). But I hated the commercial Â for this new showâ€”it was all about terrorizing people into watching. It used to be that fear and greed were the biggest draws a copywriter Â could depend on, and I guess it still is.
Online news sites are just as bad, but without the vocal Â inflectionsâ€”unless youâ€™re watching a video-cast. My biggest peeve over the past few days was news of a 67year-old woman giving birth. Okay, so? If she wanted the child, be happy for her. But no, letâ€™s all fling judgment at her. How about those polls that say, â€œWould you want a mother 67 years older than you are?â€ Where are the polls that say, â€œWould you want Brittany Spears as a mother?â€ Or â€œWould you want a mother 15 years older than you?â€ Or â€œWould you want a mother whoâ€™s ?â€ Who cares? The implication, of course, is that a mother 67 years your senior Â wonâ€™t be around to watch you grow up and give her grandchildren. Â Giving birth Â doesnâ€™t Â come Â with Â the guarantee of getting to hang around, and there are plenty enough cases of mothers dying young. Why spoil the joy with the focus on age and time? And if a woman wants to give birth and can at that age, then celebrate it, people! I donâ€™t know that Iâ€™d be willing to do it again at *67* but with the right man, Iâ€™d be willing to have another family if I were so blessed. I wouldnâ€™t be working two jobs this time, though!
So Iâ€™ve Â turned Â off Â the Â TV Â and Â clicked Â out Â of Â the online news sites. Iâ€™ve adjusted my feed aggregator so I can read the stories that will give me the news Iâ€™m interested in without a lot of opinion thrown in, and Iâ€™ve subscribed to all the podcasts that fill in the blanks for me with news about technology, science, history, archeology, marketing, spirituality, etc. I donâ€™t want to be cut off from the world, and Iâ€™d been getting more Â that way over the past year, so instead Iâ€™m using the technology we have to filter out the fear and judgment in the modern media.