If you think all is fine and dandy with this world, then you better stop reading this.
It all started on Twitter. After reading tweets of Erin Burnett this and Erin Burnett that, as anyone else would, I googled her name. The first link that caught my attention was Hollywood Life’s “Meet Erin Burnett & Her Hot News Show ‘Outfront’!” Yes, exclamation point. I know.
This is what she said about her show! Exclamation point. Exclamation point.“She plans to be “tough, hard and firm in the dealing with issues and getting answers”, she tells Hollywoodlife.com. But she also wants to contribute to “making America as great as it can be.” Erin doesn’t want to just be criticizing the politicians and other movers and shakers in America. She wants to point out “how we can constructively contribute,” to making America better as a country.”
Those are all lofty goals and ideas, of course putting theory into practice is tres, tres difficile as her first show clearly demonstrated. Actually, it’s not so difficult, it’s just not going to get you good ratings, and this following video and its consequent proliferation online has stirred things up quite a bit.
I don’t want to make this about Erin, though. (This is where I link to an article all about her, because it is really, really good. Thank you Salon.) This is about quality journalism.
After watching her “Seriously, protesters?” segment, I may or may not have ranted on Twitter.
A minute later, I received a direct message from an exec producer at CNN. I had exchanged tweets with this person only once before, so this caught me by surprise.
The person asked me about my tweet, saying “No? Where/When?” I wasn’t sure if the producer was referring to my tweet, so I asked. The producer said it had piqued his/her interest because it involved his/her network. So, I explained:“Well, her segment on the OWS protests undermines the point that this is all part of a larger narrative–the Great Recession. It’s as if she’s mocking those who are unemployed for being unemployed, when the real issue is, why aren’t companies hiring? It just struck me as offensive and unprofessional. I don’t blame CNN. These things happen.”
But do these things really happen? I didn’t want to be unpleasant and continue my rant. After all, the producer was gracious and even thanked me for caring and told me he/she would look into matter. I’m not going to blame him/her for all of the network’s problems, but it got me thinking how, in this day and age, despite the innovations in social media and the increasing importance of citizen journalism, we still have these big, powerful news networks that can easily sway public opinion, whether it’s with truthful information or with pure bias.
I’m not saying she should have sided with the protesters, but she shouldn’t have treated the Wall Street protests like a circus and its advocates like animals. After reading the Salon piece on her background, I rolled my eyes and thought, no wonder she has such scorn for the 99 percent. But she’s not the only one who makes decisions when it comes to broadcast shows.
There is a team of producers, bookers and interns who all have a say in molding the direction of the show’s daily segments. I’m sure she didn’t just go to the protests and interview that one unemployed software developer. But, she and the producers decided on that footage, therefore making it seem as if all protesters are unemployed ignorants.
Everything else about the phones, the “catered” food, the lululemon reference, and so on was all just wasted space on the teleprompter.
What she doesn’t understand is that the protests are part of a bigger story, a story that may be only 2 minutes long on air but that lives in the minds of millions of people every single day. These protests that have spread nationwide are the symptoms of the disease that has gripped the nation since 2008 and even before, all because of decisions made by the few political and financial leaders, whom we so blindly trust.
My best friend’s dad lost his job to education cuts. After sending out hundreds of resumes to hundreds of companies, my older brother had to go back to school–to undergrad, to get an engineering degree because his business degree is worthless, even if it is from McCombs.
Recently, the Dallas Morning News laid off a big chunk of its staff, as the DMN Cuts blog reported. The blog also posted an article on the earnings of top execs at the DMN and Belo, as shown below:Among the other four top executives, Dallas Morning News Publisher James Moroney earned $1.3 million in 2010, up from $478,090 in 2009; Morning News President and General Manager John McKeon earned $1.3 million in his first year on the job; Chief Financial Officer Alison Engel earned $800,001, up from $276,765; and Senior Vice President Daniel Blizzard earned $575,000, up from $211,228.
Granted, the journalism industry isn’t faring well. But, this sort of high-five-the execs-and-pink-slip-the-workers attitude is toxic and yet widespread. High unemployment and high profits simultaneously is also toxic. As one Merrill Lynch broker told me, companies aren’t hiring until Obama is out of the picture. Um, come again?
There’s so much to report on, so much to investigate, so many opportunities to be “tough, hard and firm in dealing with issues and getting answers,” but no, CNN has to resort to mocking protesters and their plight. Seriously?
And The Young Turks’ response to the segment–applause: