The Edmond Sun

Opinion

September 27, 2012

Critics prefer leaving media in pieces, not peace

WIRE — Given the current epidemic of citizens great and small smacking the news media about the head and shoulders repeatedly and with great vigor, it can’t help but hurt the feelings of a sensitive and fragile soul … such as yours truly.

I am a journalist. Hath not a journalist eyes? Hath not a journalist hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, heal’d by the same means, warm’d and cool’d by the same winter and summer?

… If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, do we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that.

The Shakespearean scholars among you will readily realize that I have plagiarized the Bard’s speech by Shylock in “The Merchant of Venice,” Act 3, scene 1, cleverly (OK, maybe not so cleverly) substituting the word “journalist” for “Jew.”

As I am a member of both profession and religion, I felt entitled. Further, I thought this past week that I could find refuge from the slings and arrows of outrageous accusations of media bias that have become daily shots to my industry’s solar plexus. This, I felt, could be accomplished by attending synagogue during the Rosh Hashana holiday.

I’m not the most observant Jew, but to me, Rosh Hashana, the solemn Jewish New Year, has through the years become sort of a two-day island in time. I generally don’t watch TV or go on my computer. In getting away from my three non-family obsessions — politics, the Yankees and my newspaper — it’s a nice time-out for my poor, old brain.

So, I’m sitting in the synagogue on the first day of the holiday, pleasantly detoxing from my cares and strife, when the rabbi begins his sermon.

But alas, for the better part of a half hour, the rabbi — who’s a friend of mine — lays into the news media for what he deemed is its bias against Israel. This opinion was based, as far as I could tell, pretty much on one column in Time magazine.

So much for detoxing from my cares and strife.

I sat there and took it, my gorge (as the Bard might say) rising, wanting to stand up and declare that Israel has never had as much support from Democrats and Republicans … and the news media … than it now enjoys.

But I didn’t, of course.

One doesn’t rise in the middle of a rabbi’s Rosh Hashana sermon in a crowded synagogue and tell him he’s full of beans. I mean, it just isn’t done.

For that matter, in our daily business day, newspaper folks generally let our critics give us the business in no uncertain terms and pretty much just take it. Whether it’s a letter to the editor from someone on either side of the hydrofracking debate or an angry — and often anonymous — telephone call from someone who thinks we are a communist cabal or a tool of big-money interests, we generally sit there and take it.

Not that we in the media don’t often deserve the abuse. We most certainly do. Everybody from the corporate genius who hires newscasters based on their glib and uninformed diatribes … to the editors who miss out on assigning important stories … to the rookie clerk who spells a name wrong in a box score.

That said, it gets a bit tiresome to see members of our profession portrayed in movies and television as voracious, unfeeling, microphone-waving mobs intent on violating people’s privacy. It gets even more noisome to listen to politicians complain of media bias because we accurately reported some colossally stupid thing they said or did. “Who are you going to believe,” they seem to ask the voters, “me or that lyin’ videotape?”

Show me some politico desperately ripping the media, and I’ll show you a scoundrel who has been caught stealing from the church collection plate.

Of course, even for sensitive sorts such as me, it does no good to complain about the press getting “a bad press.” Sophocles had it right way back around 441 B.C. when he wrote: “No one loves the messenger who brings bad news.”

Love we don’t expect. But it would be nice to go at least a day or two without hearing that we are the cause of most of society’s ills.

After all, hath not a journalist ears?

SAM POLLAK is the editor The Daily Star in Oneonta, N.Y. Contact him at spollak@thedailystar.com.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Sheltons travel for better life for family

    Some time around 1865 a mixed-race African American couple, William and Mary Shelton, made their way from Mississippi to east Texas. Nothing is known for certain of their origins in he Magnolia state, or the circumstances under which they began their new lives in Texas.

    July 29, 2014

  • Film critic Turan produces book

    Kenneth Turan, who is the film critic for National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition,” has written a book “Not to be Missed, Fifty-Four Favorites from a Life Time of Film.” His list of movies span the gamut from the beginnings of filmmaking through the present day.
    There are some surprising omissions on his list. While he includes two films, “A Touch of Evil” and Chimes at Midnight” made by Orson Welles, and one, “The Third Man,” that Welles starred in but did not direct. He did not however, include “Citizen Kane,” that was the first movie Welles made, that is  often cited by both film critics and historians as a favorite film.

    July 28, 2014

  • Logan County’s disputed zone

    Watchers of “Star Trek” may recall the episode from the original series entitled, “Day of the Dove.” In this episode, Captain Kirk and his crew are forced by a series of circumstances into a confrontation with the Klingons. The conflict eventually resolves after Kirk realizes that the circumstances have been intentionally designed by an alien force which feeds off negative emotions, especially fear and anger. Kirk and his crew communicate this fact to the Klingons and the conflict subsides. No longer feeding upon confrontation, the alien force is weakened and successfully driven away.

    July 28, 2014

  • Russell leads in Sun poll

    Polling results of an unscientific poll at www.edmondsun.com show that Steve Russell, GOP candidate for the 5th District congressional seat, is in the lead with 57 percent of the vote ahead of the Aug. 26 runoff election. Thirty readers participated in the online poll.

    July 28, 2014

  • Healthier and Wealthier? Not in Oklahoma

    Increased copays, decreased coverage, diminished health care access, reduced provider budgets and increased frustration are all the outcomes of the Legislature’s 2014 health care funding decisions. Unlike some years in the past when a languishing state economy forced legislators into making cuts, the undesirable outcomes this year could easily have been avoided.

    July 26, 2014

  • Medicaid reform a necessity

    Historically, education spending by the state of Oklahoma has been the largest budget item. This is no longer the case. In recent years, the state of Oklahoma spends more on Medicaid (operated by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority) than common education and higher education combined, according to the state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

    July 25, 2014

  • Remembering lessons from 1974

    This week marks the 40th anniversary of an important milestone in America’s constitutional history. On July 24, 1974, the Supreme Court voted 8-0 to order the Nixon White House to turn over audiotapes that would prove the president and his close aides were guilty of criminal violations. This ruling established with crystal clarity that the executive branch could not hide behind the shield of executive privilege to protect itself from the consequences of illegal behavior. It was a triumph for the continued vitality of our constitutional form of government.

    July 25, 2014

  • RedBlueAmerica: Is parenting being criminalized in America?

    Debra Harrell was arrested recently after the McDonald’s employee let her daughter spend the day playing in a nearby park while she worked her shift. The South Carolina woman says her daughter had a cell phone in case of danger, and critics say that children once were given the independence to spend a few unsupervised hours in a park.
    Is it a crime to parent “free-range” kids? Does Harrell deserve her problems? Joel Mathis and Ben Boychuk, the RedBlueAmerica columnists, debate the issue.

    July 24, 2014

  • Technology that will stimulate journalism’s future is now here

    To say technology has changed the newspaper media industry is understating the obvious. While much discussion focuses on how we read the news, technology is changing the way we report the news. The image of a reporter showing up to a scene with a pen and a pad is iconic but lost to the vestiges of time.
    I am asked frequently about the future of newspapers and, in particular, what does a successful future look like. For journalists, to be successful is to command multiple technologies and share news with readers in new and exciting ways.

    July 23, 2014

  • New Orleans features its own “Running of the Bulls”

    On July12, the streets of the Warehouse District of New Orleans were filled with thousands of young men who were seeking to avoid being hit with plastic bats wielded by women on roller skates as part of the annual “Running of the Bulls” that takes place in New Orleans.
    The event is based on the “Running of the Bulls” that occurs in Pamplona, Spain, that is  part of an annual occurrence in which a group of bulls rampage through the streets of Pamplona while men run from them to avoid being gored by their sharp horns. That event was introduced to the English-speaking world by Ernest Hemingway, who included scenes from it in his critically acclaimed 1926 novel “The Sun also Rises.”

    July 22, 2014

Poll

The runoff race for the 5th District congressional seat is set for Aug. 26. If the voting were today, which candidate would you support?

Al McAffrey
Tom Guild
Undecided
     View Results