(Pic at The Weather Channel in September of 2010)
The relationship between news organizations and the public ebbs and flows. When people feel unsure or don’t buy into a national crisis, they like to blame the “media”.
When a tornado might be coming, they rely solely on the “media”.
In recent years, thanks to lies spread by leaders around the world, people like to call the “media” fake. It is like a game of bullying an unknown person.
So, let’s put a face and heart to the “media”.
As a person who lovingly spent 20 years behind the scenes of multiple news organizations, I feel compelled to tell you who the “media” are.
They are fathers and mothers who don’t see much of their kids when a crisis breaks out. As others rush home to their families, the “media” rush away from theirs, answering the call to keep the public informed.
They are recent college grads who owe a lot in debt, but still took a low paying job, sometimes working 60 hours a week with no overtime, so that they can live out their passion of keeping the public informed and safe.
They are a high ratio of men and women you never see because they work behind-the-scenes to make sure you have every bit of information you need to be safe or informed or told the truth of what is going on with your elected officials.
They are not rich.
They are not well-fed, because their diets often consist of what is in the vending machines.
They are not well-rested.
They are called off much-deserved vacations. They work holidays. When schools shut down, they go into work to report on the “why”.
When snows shut down cities, they find a way to go in.
They miss school plays, games, family reunions, weddings… most of the living in life… to make sure they are keeping the public informed.
They are not only the celebrity anchors you see. They are not only the owners or CEOs sitting high on the hog.
Most of them are hard-working, honest, tireless advocates for the public.
They uncover scams, tell you of dangerous weather, inform you of the crisis taking place in your town.
When I say they put their families and friends 2nd to this crazy passion called journalism, I am not exaggerating.
I am just one small example.
One year, as a hurricane was making landfall, I yelled at my 2-year old to go to bed, because we were updating the website minute by minute. She wouldn’t stop crying. Hours after it made landfall, I found out she had a 102 degree temperature.
One year, I walked miles, trying to stay in tire marks on unplowed snowy streets because I had to get to work, but I couldn’t get my car out of the driveway.
One year, I abandoned my truck, filled with kitty litter bags in the back, and walked up Red Mountain in Birmingham because I couldn’t drive on the icy roads.
One year, I watched planes crash into our souls, and alongside other dedicated journalists, did not stop to grieve as we had a job to do. As firefighters and police officials were running toward the buildings, so were members of the “media”.
I left the profession I still love because you have to choose it over your families if you want to do the job correctly. People in the “media” are, more often than not, ALL IN. That means, no kids, no time for your marriage, and no trips away… because you are never unplugged.
My first job, in the early 90s, paid me $4.60 an hour. No benefits. I waitressed on the side in order to afford rent in a crappy apartment that I shared with a friend. I got a promotion the next year to full-time, at $12,000. Overtime? No. But, I got health benefits!
I am not complaining. I am actually proud of all the work I did and the fact that I did most of it with little money and little time off.
And, I am not alone in having that story. In fact, most have that story…and some are even more compelling.
Every day, I read posts from people I thought were my friends, claiming this latest outbreak of a virus is hyped at the fault of the “media”.
This fascinates me.
So, the media calls daily press conferences?
The media told people to buy all the toilet paper?
The media killed people? Infected people?
If you feel this way, I have a suggestion.
Next time there is severe weather, do not consult the media. Next time there is a mass shooting, walk away from watching or reading anything.
The President has made a career by using the “media” for his gain. Yet, because he knew there were more who would hold him accountable for his behavior than not, he started to plant a dangerous seed. “Fake news”, he says. So many people took the bait.
Don’t like what you hear? Blame the media.
The absolute worst thing I read is that someone I know actually believes the media cooked COVID-19 up to distract the public from something else the media doesn’t want you to know about.
If this blog, or many others like it don’t put a human face and passionate heart on the “media”, then ok… your choice.
And, please, understand… you are insulting hard-working, low-wage earning individuals who will still run away from their families, and towards the truth…