Sunday, April 12, 2009

Ooh, What A Hypotwit

As I've done my reading the past few weeks ok the news media and it's shaky relationship with the Internet, one comment on something I read has lingered in the ol' brainium. The commented, a current member of the media, sneered at the primary post, deriding its substance and its author because the author confessed to being "a former reporter." The commented seemed to think that since the comments came from someone no longer affiliated with -- and somewhat disappointed by -- the media, that the comments were somehow less valid. That is a significant attitude coming from an individual working in an industry that uses whistleblowers, the disgruntled and easily talkative, and the industry rebels as part and parcel of their trade. Why not, I wonder, listen to the recently departed, who certainly have reasons to be disheartened with the industry, unless, of course, you don't want to hear whatever they may have to offer.

I, myself, am a former journalist, one who left for two reasons:

1) I screwed up. Muffed two stories in the same issue. I have no defense, though I bristle at being called a lazy reporter -- I was called this -- for the slipups. They were not intentional. Nor was I habitually lazy.

2) I was tired of the business. A second strike against me, obviously, in the eyes of those still in the business. But considering how many Idaho journalists have left journalism for greener pastures (Randy Stapilus keeps a list of them at I'm not alone. Nor do I feel shamed by it. I got my current job as a technical writer because my boss saw in my resume a person who could meet deadlines -- and I do that. I do many other things for which I developed the skills as a journalist. And, more importantly, I'm now able, both on and off the job, able to write passionately about the things I want to write about. No more boring city council meetings fir me. there are reporters out there who enjoy a good meeting, and for that I am grateful. I'm also glad I'm not one of them.

So, should my "checkered" past disqualify me as an extremely minor commentator on the state of the media today? No. If I were in the nuclear industry (which I am) and were only minorly incompetent (which I am, and which everyone is to some extent) the old media types would be glad to hear from me and others like me. But the saying goes that lawyers don't like to sue other lawyers out of professional courtesy. It appears that attitude is mirrored in media as well.

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