Friday, September 11, 2009


I don't often discuss work, my profession, or anything really inside my professional sphere. However, I've increasingly been disturbed with today's journalists and their (lack of) integrity.

As a blogger, I get to share my personal views. If I was getting paid to write for someone else (as I am in my day job, for example) those views go out the window. Your job is then one of two things (depending on your gig). You are either neutral and report the facts (like journalists are supposed to do) or you write what people tell you to write.

We spent a lot of time discussing ethics when I was studying public relations (as hard as this is for some people to believe... PR professionals do have ethics). I must say, I'm a bit of an idealist when it comes to things like this. I expect fairly unbiased news, even though I realize every paper, news programme, magazine or blog has a slant. I expect news. I also expect journalists not to prey on victims of heinous crime and tragedy.

This is why I have no idea why Mark Whicker's editor even allowed him to write a sports column focusing on what Jaycee Dugard missed when she was kidnapped, raped, and held captive in a shed for 18 years of her life. He began his article as follows.

It doesn't sound as if Jaycee Dugard got to see a sports page.

Box scores were not available to her from June 10, 1991 until Aug. 31 of this year.

She never saw a highlight. Never got to the ballpark for Beach Towel Night. Probably hasn't high-fived in a while.

She was not allowed to spike a volleyball. Or pitch a softball. Or smack a forehand down the line. Or run in a 5-footer for double bogey.

Now, that's deprivation.

Let's play that again. "Now, that's deprivation." It's deprivation that a girl of 11, who was kidnapped, raped, impregnated, and held captive in a backyard shed until the age of 29 never got to read sports scores or spike a volleyball.

Making light of the terrible things people have been through, or using them to sell papers really bothers me. Mark Whicker's article makes me want to throw up, and it also irks me that the media hounds the families of victims of 9/11 to dredge up stories to sell anniversary issues. Yes, it was a terrible, terrible event and I will never forget where I was when I heard the news, or the images of the planes crashing into the towers. But as a society we need to support each other, we need to pick up those who need us, and we need to rebuild. I know I'll probably get some flack over this view, but I think news should be news. If there are new developments, report on them. If not, let people grieve on their own. If people have stories they need to get out, be that vehicle. Otherwise, let them remember their loved ones in peace.

Read Tommy Cragg's call-out of Mark Whicker here.


Sarah said...

I don't know if it will make you feel any better, but we definitely discussed ethics a lot when I was in school too.

Unfortunately there will always be slimeballs like Whicker who clearly can't be taught empathy or decency.

Fortunately, as someone who is supposed to uphold the ideals of journalism, as opposed to someone who is a personal blogger, he can be held accountable by his readers.

However, I am surprised that he hasn't been let go from the paper.

Elle Bee... said...

I have journalist friends (like you) who I have no doubts about their integrity. It just seems like everywhere (else) I look these days, it's lacking.

This Emily Hunter has been touring Alberta with MTV... and though she's "blogging", is still a "news" site. Her one-sidedness really irks me.

willtherebecake said...

I work in PR too so I know what you mean. But OMG I can't believe someone would write something so distasteful.

Sarah said...

Aw, thanks doll. I do my best, which I think is why journalists like Whicker giving credence to the idea that all members of the big bad media are soul-sucking vultures willing to throw ethics out the window for the sake of a juicier story drives me insane.

I also think (hope) that there are lots of people like me who do the best they can to present the facts in a way that is succinct, yet interesting without exploiting people. Ironically, they just don't make the news.

I used to read rabble all the time, although never as a primary news source but I've gone off it lately. I'll have to check out this Hunter woman's blog though. I can't imagine I'll be too impressed with her if you aren't.

Great post, by the way!

Kyla Roma said...

Yeesh. Just....
Just yeesh. I hope someone has slapped him.

Cate O'Malley said...

Oh man, that's just terrible.

Single Girl said...

Unbelieveable. That's why people like us have to just keep on, keepin' on - fighting the good fight!