Monday, November 22, 2010

Some Want to Bust Me!

Scarborough Busted Now

Now, MSNBC’s Joe “Morning Joe” Scarborough is on a two-day suspension for making political contributions to Republican candidates in past years. Just like Keith Olbermann before him, the former newspaper man and congressman-turned-TV-morning show host will be back on the air Wednesday, November 24, 2010.

There was much comment at the time about whether Olbermann is a journalist, a commentator, a host or what? I even mused that maybe Mr. Olbermann should return to sports at ESPN.

Then, I remembered the words of the long-time and long-ago sports director at KTBC TV in the CBS days. Phil Miller weighed in on a newsroom debate one night say, “Sports IS news”. He was and is right. How many times has Mack Brown appeared on the front page of the Austin American-Statesman this fall? How many times, has the sports anchor appeared in the first news segment as will as during sports?

Sports reporters and anchors have been involved in the reporting of major news events, such as Charles Whitman’s fuselage from the UT Tower in 1966 or the Munich massacre at the 1972 Olympics reported by Jim McKay.

Most sports reporters and anchors receive the same Journalism training as those who focus on “hard” news. Both Olberman and Scarborough should have known better. As one writer to the newsmcnabb blog put it, “Rules are rules.”

Interestingly, several others, however, took Olbermann’s side. I assume that they would take Scarborough’s side too.
“WRONG, JIM.” Anonymous posted.

“As a US Citizen, Olbermann has every right to give what he wants to give to a political campaign, and without having to ask permission from his corporate overlords.

“Get off your journalistic high horse!”

And another anonymous using the same terminology agreed.
“Once again, Mr. McNabb, your double standard is perplexing,” wrote Anonymous #2. “ You - the self-proclaimed, self-appointed local "watchdog" of all things pure in journalism - apparently still consider yourself a journalist...and yet you have held events/fundraisers at your home for candidates (RE: "Blame Partisan Media," June 10, 2010). There's little difference between you and Olbermann, so get off the high horse. The real question is: Who watches the "watchdog"?”

Yes, I do still consider myself a journalist. I’ve often said, “Once a journalist, always a journalist,” but I am a retired journalist. I no longer work in day-to-day mainstream Journalism. I do teach at the university level on the adjunct faculty at St. Edward’s University, but I am teaching “Presentational Speech”, not journalism. There is a difference.

Further, Anonymous #2 knows that I have indeed worked in politics and participated in political fundraisers since my retirement because I said so in the interest of transparency. It is no secret.

I sometimes wonder if Anonymous must feel some heat from this journalism/media criticism column. Perhaps a good investigative piece might be to search local lists of political contributions for names of working journalists. Some don't use their legal names on the air or in bylines.

Finally, “Who watches the watchdog?” The answer is, you. You and Anonymous.

© Jim McNabb, 2010

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