By Kenneth Justice
~ Nearly a decade ago one of those MASSIVE Freeway-Signs that are connected to the overpass bridges came loose during a violent windstorm (it had recently been replaced and not attached properly) and came crashing down upon my SUV and sending me careening into the side of the expressway.
I had been traveling 70 MPH (roughly 112 kilometers) when all of a sudden it felt like a meteor had come crashing onto my vehicle. The roof of the automobile immediately buckled from the pressure and crashed down up on my head while at the same time 8 foot long metal poles from the sign blew out the front window entirely spewing glass all over me.
While everything occurred too quickly for me to have one of those ‘life flashes before my eyes moment’ it was days later when I realized how fortunate I was to have not suffered any major injuries or to have died.
All the next week my phone blew up with calls from the NEWS media. Within 72 hours I’d received calls from every local TV station, all the newspapers, and nearly a dozen different radio stations all requesting interviews with me; in all I counted more than 35 different requests for interviews.
Of course I work a normal Mon-Fri job, in fact at the time I was working every Saturday and every other Sunday, so for me to set aside my personal time to be interviewed by 35 different NEWS outlets was simply a massive inconvenience.
As I began turning down one interview after another, the various journalists were incredulous, “Why wouldn’t you want to give me an interview?” asked one stunned newspaper reporter.
“Because I don’t feel like losing money by not working to give you an interview” I said
One particular television NEWS reporter called me five times, getting nastier with me each time,
“You HAVE to give me an interview” she said at one point
“No I don’t HAVE to do anything, but if you want to compensate me for the time I will lose from work then I’ll consider doing the interview” I said
“That’s not the way the NEWS works Sir, the NEWS isn’t about money!” she barked
“Really?” I said, “So you’re not getting paid to do your work? The television station isn’t making profit from the advertisers?”
“Sir, we don’t pay for interviews. It isn’t ethical!” she yelled back at me
“Actually, you do. It’s well known that certain celebrities give interviews to the highest paying NEWS outlet; what you’re really saying is that because I’m not a celebrity you won’t pay me” I said
In the end I gave one interview to a reporter at a small local newspaper. It was a small paper that clearly wasn’t bringing in millions of dollars trying to profit off of sensationalistic journalism.
Ultimately, there is a lot of hypocrisy in the NEWS media. We can pretend that they aren’t driven by the almighty dollar; but let’s be honest, money is a MAJOR element of the NEWS media. Things were different a generation ago when we didn’t have 24 hour news stations. Now it seems as though the media blows out of proportion anything and everything in order to gain ratings (and higher earnings).
We can pretend that the NEWS media isn’t biased but everyone is biased; that’s a fact of life. Of course, what exactly all of this means I’m not really sure. Just a few thoughts as I sipped my coffee this morning,
Categories: Culture & Society