December 06, 2007


An open letter to a certain local political candidate:

Dear sir,

I appreciate the fact that you believe you could do a great deal of good by running for this certain county office. I'll even concede you have impressive experience and at least one great recommendation for the job. I have no problem with speaking with you about your intentions, and I am grateful for your decision to send out a press release that will surely save us both time in the future.

However, I must object to how the release was written.

I understand that you are most likely excited about running for office, but writing a two-page single-spaced press release entirely in capital letters is a bad thing. It's a bit harder to read, and it slightly frustrates me. It almost gives me the impression that you are resorting to yelling to get your point across, and I know that isn't what you are doing. If this release doubles as your campaign literature, I can only imagine what others might think.

We all make mistakes. Hopefully, this little incident won't stand in the way of future professional interactions.


Posted by Randy at 12:50 PM | TrackBack

October 01, 2007

Life or Death

Several weeks ago, I had the opportunity to watch a man die. I did not take it.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

It isn't a secret that I am an opinionated person. From the "War on Terror" to abortion to the Trans-Texas Corridor, I have an opinion. I'll gladly share those opinions with my friends if they ask me for them, and I even sometimes give them without prompting because I need to vent.

Journalists are allowed to have opinions. If they weren't, nobody could be a journalist. Everybody knows this. The trick to being a journalist, then, is not sharing that opinion with the "public." Once one's opinion is known, claims of bias suddenly are given weight. The written words in a story might not change, but the perception and interpretation of those words might. This is why I try not to share my opinions at the office or with people who I interact with professionally.

Even when a journalist has a strong opinion on a subject, he or she should be able to write about it as objectively as possible. In the past, I've written stories about people who I thought were idiotically wasting everybody's time and energy, but a reader would not be able to tell that by what I wrote. I could write about a drunk driver's arrest or conviction without revealing my opinion. I can write about a school bond election without sharing what I think.

I also believe every journalist should know his or her limitations.

I have a very strong opinion about the death penalty. I do not have a problem writing about the penalty as a possible punishment or as the sentence of a trial. At this point, it's an abstract idea. It might happen, but it might not.

I do have a problem, however, with attending and writing about an execution. I am afraid I would unintentionally reveal bias in the story. Therefore, at this point in my career, I believe it would be irresponsible of me to take on such a story. Thus, I declined the chance to attend.

What do you think?

Posted by Randy at 10:53 PM | TrackBack

June 20, 2007

Weird Wacky Web

For the record, I am trying not to write about my work on my blog. Even though I doubt it would happen, I do not want a confrontation about my blog because of work-related posts. This post is one (and perhaps the only) time I will be breaking my unofficial "no-work-content" rule.

I overheard someone at work say today that the most read Sunday story this past weekend was about a local girl working as an intern for Fox New's website. Someone else responded that the story had been linked on a blog somewhere, and that link probably explained the higher-than-normal number of readers.

Naturally, my curiosity was piqued. (If you are wondering why, click the earlier link.) Once I arrived back at my apartment, I decided to find the blog that linked the story. Turning to Google, I searched for her name plus the word "intern," hoping to weed out links from the news channel's website that had her byline. Imagine my surprise to find not one but many links to the story within the first five pages of the search.

The first link came from Instaputz, a blog I had not heard before. The next link came from greenslade, a blogger for the Guardian, a rather large UK newspaper. It was followed soon after by a link from Romenesko, a news feed column at Poynter Online. The story somehow even found itself in the news feed of the Huffington Post.

The attention this little community story received was a bit shocking at first. Even though it did not (to my knowledge) get any commentary from big name bloggers, it did make a few rounds on the web. I must confess it's a bit shocking to stumble across words I've written on websites other than my own or the paper's site.

When I really think about it, though, it isn't all that surprising that this story got a bit of attention. It mentions Fox News, and it mentions an employee believing in God. For those who are truly against the FNC, that story is a gem. For the record, I dislike the channel quite a bit. I believe it is false advertising for it to use the slogan "fair and balanced," and I think it is very clearly tilted to the conservative side of the American political spectrum. That said, this girl is an intern. She doesn't really deserve the mocking she has received. She believes in God. She is, apparently, conservative. She and her family enjoy the FNC. She has not done anything wrong.

I wish I could say it is a new low to see bloggers mocking an innocent intern because she just happens both to believe in God and to work for FNC's website. Unfortunately, I know the blogosphere has sunk lower and probably will again.

Disclaimer (just in case): The views expressed in this post and every other post at the website you are visiting belong solely to the author of this and every other post and represent in no way the views or opinions of my employer.

Posted by Randy at 12:23 AM | TrackBack