I am not a journalist by trade, and I normally post promotional-grade media on this site.
Personally, I relate most to the late Tom Ellis, the newsman known well to the Boston area, having stints at all the 3 major stations, and had done gigs after being fired from WNEV-TV in late 1986. He was a newsman, more of man who would read off the teleprompter, but admitted he wasn’t a journalist. He had a special gift for taking written copy and put it in a way the viewers can believe and see. Before TV he had done a bunch of blue collar jobs, and his discipline continued in the mid 1990s to 2009 when his last TV gig was at New England Cable News, later branded by it’s acronym or initials depending on who you hung out with in the local media.
But I feel I am a bit more upscale than Tom Ellis. There is a certain level of professionalism in some of my story telling I do. I’ll edit copy, revise words, replace cheap words with ten-dollar ones instead, or rewrite an entire copy because the CNN writer sucked. Anyways, I have discussed my interest in local news in my about page. However, as I gotten older, I felt that journalism per se isn’t have to be newsy, nor does it have to apply to broadcast. This story is about me and my upbringing.
There is no family gene relating to journalism. I do not know any family member that had any experience. I do have family members who did performing arts, and apparently my paternal family is very athletic (a 180° of who I am as a creative-type.) A good member of my maternal family consumed a lot of news (and now more opinion type of content.) But I am the only one who did some journalism literally in the playground.
For the entire school age career, I had been in special education; and sadly I learned the hard way about accountability. The young-Steven was always the center of the accountability. My mother on the other hand, was almost was smitten by her fellow female school colleagues. The IEP meetings in elementary school from what I could tell was more like Ladies Day In the conference room gushing on how great my hierarchal mother had been. I think over time, some of that gotten into her head.
As a result, I developed a deep sense of anger, and resentment to the people who I believed enabled my mother, and further disabling me, leaving me in my thirties for being the MinfigNewsguy because I really do not have much of a purpose.
I never refer my mother as “mom” or (“mum” being part Yank); she’s my mother, she’s not a sister, not a friend, not anything other than giving me life. It also highlights boundaries and almost at times an adversarial relationship. I never gotten the proper respect or affection by anyone else. Up until a couple years ago, at an adult day program, I had direct support staff gushing over my mother, in admiration of how young and cute she was. Wait they are supposed to be working with me right? Not only that, but on some of my worse days, some of the narratives they would have to write for the authoritative agencies was almost like a hit job. The medicaid system requires extensive documentation, and even at that level, they are required to write in third-person language. So they are treated as “reporters” in that sense to “journalize” my day to day experiences to justify funding. But the level of Anti-Steven bias was so pervasive that it was almost as bad as print or broadcast journalism.
It also taught me several other things, that journalism has too much of love, a heart and in some cases infatuations with subjects (or sometimes sources.) The technology media is so infatuated with the Silicon Valley Dream, that they can’t even hold any of the Big Tech executives barely accountable. Emily Chang acts more like a peer in Silicon Valley than she is somewhat close to a journalist but cordial. Andrew Ross Sorkin is just as bad too with his big stage interviews with the top CEOs who don’t really know who the Tom Ellis or Steven the Minfig Newsguy’s core working class audience is. All 3 major cable news channels in America are tilted to their own agendas, some are trashy, like high school bullies, but some are more cliques. But finding a car chase, or a wildfire or some story that is big in one area of the country is not the public’s interest anymore.
I mention all of this when I am at my workspace trying to build out a newscast and having monitors on and listening to news, when all I hear is talent gushing over other people to crush on, and I rarely hear anything critical (even if they agree!)
Podcasts are obviously like blogs with just sound instead. Jordan Peterson comes to mind. He hates pornography, but yet the people who are consuming it have some perverse bromance with this dude, and gush over him like he’s the hottest pizza to eat on the planet! There is never anyone who likes someone 99.9% of the time, and get critical.
The other person I come off as an influence is Bret Shipp at WFAA in Dallas, the long time enterprise reporter at the station. I long for the days of stakeouts and taking a Handycam and walk into a subject and having things get thrown at them (which is bad) but sometimes makes for good TV.
We all have biases, but some are more subtle than others, but as we approach Saint Valentine’s Day, I think it’s extremely important to ensure are we sure we should be in love with the people we are supposed to cover, or suppose to get some sort of analysis from? Should we be careful how gidgy we are in front of a camera? Can subjects be comfortable of answering real and honest questions without the fear that the journalist is not against the subject? Can we as a society report stories without over personalizing or turning the subjects into a persona?
I basically end this with, journalism should be about reporting a subject or an event, for a historical records, in the spirit of being fair, but also have the profession to not be so obviously compromised by trying to give all voices a chance if possible, and do it without being too much of a cold-hearted prick. In my opinion, smoochfests, and gushing on subjects gives people an unfair perspective of the world around them and worse it could corrupt their view of the world, much like how my teachers I put faith in really empowered my mother instead, when working in a school district, it should be the interest of the student.
[Un] Happy Valentine’s Day all.