Career change

TV reporters will tell you there are many reasons they do what they do. As youngsters, they enter the business with a romantic view of journalism and the notion that it can change the world. Or they want to be part of the events that shape their world and community. Some may have the more craven motivation of becoming highly-paid news anchors.

But as they get older, many will ruefully explain why they stay in the business: It’s because they have no other job skills.

July 15 was a lousy day for two former TV reporters who have sought to make a career change. One of them, former WSB reporter Dale Cardwell, got clobbered in an effort to win the Democratic nomination for the US Senate. Cardwell’s quest was always puzzling. Though he carried a strong idealistic streak in his reporting, he never seemed overtly political.

Cardwell did numerous stories with a common theme: Vernon Jones is a menace. When Cardwell jumped in the race, it almost seemed to stem from his professional antagonism against Jones, extended to the political arena. Jones and Jim Martin got more votes than Cardwell. No doubt, this gave Jones enormous amounts of undeserved satisfaction.

Steen Miles has run at least four political campaigns since leaving WXIA in the 1990s. She ran against Jones for DeKalb CEO eight years ago, and lost badly. But then she got elected to the state Senate. Unfortunately, she overreached afterward. She abandoned her Senate seat to make an ill-advised run for Lieutenant Governor and got clobbered. Tuesday she lost another election for DeKalb CEO. (She appeared on the ballot as Steen “Newslady” Miles.)

But the most peculiar splash made lately by an ex-TV reporter involved Cynthia Good, late of WAGA and now publisher of a magazine called Pink. Good somehow convinced Mayor Shirley Franklin to replace the inscriptions of 50 “men at work” signs with the more gender-neutral “workers ahead.” Good called it a victory against discrimination. Each new sign will cost $122.

The bloggers loved that bit of political correctness, especially the right-wing boys club at Peach Pundit, whose editor opined that the city should have told “her to get back in the kitchen and take her shoes off — the truly appropriate response to this silliness.”

Hey, at least Good’s not a blogger, right?

Oh, wait. She is. Never mind.

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About live apt fire

Doug Richards is a reporter at WXIA-TV. This is his personal blog. WXIA-TV has nothing whatsoever to do with this blog, under any circumstances, in any form. For anything written herein, Doug accepts sole credit and full blame. Follow him on Twitter: @richardsdoug. All rights reserved. Thanks for visiting.

8 thoughts on “Career change

  1. gooberpeas

    it always bothered me that people get into journalism with the idea that they can help “change the world” or “make a difference”.

    my view is that the journalist’s job is to gather the facts and present them to the reader/viewer.

    wanting to be part of the events that shape the world is one reason Obama has done so well thus far…..”journalists” wanting to be a part of history have ignored the substance, and focused on the fluff…..and in the process have done a disservice to the public.

    a good journalist should have a well rounded education before getting into journalism school….at least that way they can appear to know something about that which they try to report on….and will be able to ask the hard questions to those they interview (such as Al Gore), and not just parrot back the misinformation that that are sometimes fed.

    Reply
  2. live apt fire Post author

    @ goober: We disagree. Ain’t nothing wrong with changing the world. Ask John Lewis in Selma, or Hosea Williams in Cumming (or Richard Nixon in ’73).

    Ask Lynn Turner, who wouldn’t be serving a life sentence today for anti-freezing her boyfriend and husband to death were it not for an expose in the AJC. (Too bad Jane Hansen bailed from the newspaper during its “re-org”).

    Images and stories can resonate, open eyes and right wrongs.

    That said, it happens hardly ever in local TV news. But if you want to be a journalist, you gotta start somewhere.

    Reply
  3. Edward

    Hey goober, can we make pointless and inaccurate generalizations about conservatives, too? I’m a liberal and I consider crap like that done by Cynthia Good to be silly and pointless… and has absolutely NOTHING to do with being a liberal. Why do conservatives make such fools of themselves in public forums? 😉

    Reply
  4. gooberpeas

    were John Lewis or Hosea Williams journalists?….my point is, if someone wants to try to change the world that’s fine, but not while they profess to be a journalist….else what we end up with is not journalism, but propaganda….

    hey Ed!….you may think that what Cynthia Good did was silly, but she seems to think it’s a great thing that she’s done for all womankind (I would say “mankind” but hey, don’t want to offend her 😉 )….maybe you’re not quite as liberal as she is?
    (I wonder if one extra city employee will be let go in order to pay for the new signs.)

    Reply
  5. bigear

    gooberpeas by your definition of journalism, Edward R. Murrow should have never tackled the whole Joseph McCarthy controversy. Now, excuse me while I go sign my loyalty oath and submit to extensive background searches so no one thinks I am a communist.

    Also, I know many people working in journalism that have gone to the best schools and gotten diplomas/degrees graduating with honors, etc. and they still crank out crap. It’s the underlying qualities that makes the journalist.

    Also, I did not get to see any pieces since I was out of town, but I would have asked the city how many women actually are in those work crews. Either way, it would have been interesting.

    Reply
  6. gooberpeas

    hey bigear!

    I really can’t comment on the Edward R. Murrow thing since I can’t recall any of his reports on the McCarthy controversy…..were they just the facts, (a la Joe Friday) or full of emotion (a la Monica Pearson)?

    personally, I think reporting is a gift (much like teaching is)….being intelligent and highly educated, while necessary, doesn’t automatically make one a good reporter…

    I came across something on the web today….I think it’s very relevent to this discussion….it’s obvious that English is not his first language, but he gets the point across….

    here’s are some exerpts:

    “I attended a meeting at the Embassy of the United States of America in London that revolved around “Politics and Pundits – The Influence of the Media on Elections and Democracy.” I left with a feeling that the press I worked in as a young man is no longer the one we practice today. It has changed in the East and the West, but not for the better.”

    “According to Neal Boortz, the broadcaster of a very popular American radio program with a four-million audience, journalists do not exist to change the world; the broadcaster’s job is to present – in ten minutes time – news mixed with entertainment to keep the audience tuned in until the commercial break. He will then have to find entertaining news for another ten minutes until the time comes for another commercial break. Hence, advertisements, not the news, constitute the basis.

    As I was listening to Boortz present his standpoint humorously, perhaps with the intention of attracting our attention as he does with his audience, I found that he was right and his opinion serious. The media no longer present readers with the most important news; they rather provide them with what they ask for. As a result, the emphasis on people and issues has receded to be replaced by something like Barack Obama is a “rock star.” The correspondent entrusted with covering Obama’s news is interested in learning the number of girls who fainted in a rally or a party of his, compared to the number of those who slept while John McCain was delivering his speech.

    As a little boy, I used to call such press “color.” The funny or humane parts would be put within a small frame inside the main news item. Today the funny and entertaining part has become the news item and the serious material an inside frame.”

    you can read the whole thing HERE

    Reply

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