Today’s column is about journalists.
Writing about your peers is always a risky business, because they can turn around and return fire, and each of us is a viable target. Me particularly. I have made more than my share of professional errors, and will likely make more.
But that does not deprive me of my right to gripe. And, currently there are three things in particular about which griping is necessary.
1) Doesn’t anyone fact-check anymore? (Rhetorical question.) The other morning, I was listening to the radio news, when a reporter explained that the economic summit in Europe could likely lead to a new “Marshall Plan,” which he went on to define as the economic program the U.S. launched to “help Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall.”
The Marshall Plan had nothing to do with the Berlin Wall. It dates to 1948 and was an American program to rebuild European economies devastated by World War II. I nearly called the radio station’s newsroom to offer a correction, but realized I probably would also have had to explain what World War II was, and I just didn’t have time.
2) The story of Dominique Strauss-Kahn is intriguing, but what is so flippin’ fascinating about where he is serving his house arrest? Scads of press are camped out in front of his townhouse, as they were in front of the apartment building in which he was previously confined. But why are they there? To take more yawn footage of his wife leaving or entering? Or do they think he actually may try to escape and one of them could pounce on him and be a hero/heroine, or at least get an exclusive photo?
I understand neither their mentality nor that of the media outlets that are paying them to stand there. And to annoy the neighbors with inane questions.
3) If I am watching an 11 p.m. TV newscast, I would like actual news. Not featured reports by some twinkie telling us all about the results of whatever network competition show (“Dancing With the Stars,” “American Idol,” et al) ended minutes before. That ain’t “news”; it’s unadulterated self-promotion.
I am also sick of the news-item teasers, such as “Wait till you hear…” and “You won’t believe…”. Example: One is shown teaser footage of some guy fishing. “Wait till you hear what he caught!” the anchorperson says. What he caught turns out to be a fish. (Okay, I made that one up, but you know what I’m talking about.)
— Karen Zautyk
P.S. On another topic entirely, I share with you anecdote from a friend in Scotland. The people are real. The dialogue is real. The email reads:
Bill McBean was with Uncle Francis in a pub at Hillend in Fife. There was a stag’s head on the wall.
He said to a man at the next table, “That stag killed my dad.”
“Did it gore him?” the man asked.
Uncle Francis replied: “No, it fell on his head.”