1) Sort of. 2) 30.
The Herald’s given me the keys to the blog. I have tried to warn them.
"Yeah, well, you know, that’s just like, uh, your opinion, man."
Best advice states that when you make a glaring eff-up, the only response is to apologize, embrace your shame and keep writing.
That, or quit your job and become a waitress.
I think I could be a good waitress. I’m friendly. I can carry trays.
Is anyone hiring for waitresses? No?
I was permitted an opinion. I don’t think it is as good as my last opinion. But this one is about the royal couple, so I expect more people will read it.
If you’re as sick of Kai Nagata as Stampede mini doughnuts, you’re probably going to want to skip right over this. The Summer news doldrums have generated a media snit fit between the former CTV Quebec bureau chief and his detractors. The commentary these pieces have generated among my circle on Facebook has been worthwhile. I have something more I want to say about the subject and it won’t fit in a FB comment field.
I liked Kai’s piece because it laid bare the tensions not only between the business and public service elements of TV journalism, but also the tensions of growing up. His essay explores the dichotomy of integrity versus responsibility. Most young journalists have faced the same internal struggles as Kai Nagata. You either stay in the industry, fight to improve it, or bail on the whole damnable scene. Each option presents its own challenges and consequences.
Only experience kicks you in the ass, gives you a new perspective and hopefully mellows you enough to accept the inevitable compromises of an adult life. I feel for Kai because at his age I dropped everything to go to Abu Dhabi, ostensibly to join a state-owned newspaper that would inspire a flourishing of media in the Gulf. In hindsight, that was incredibly dumb. Naivete at 24 is a forgivable sin. Likewise, staying in a job you hate because you’re 30 and have a mortgage to pay is not a sign of wisdom.
Kai’s essay has garnered its share of criticism, much of it rooted in defensiveness. Why? Because many of his criticisms, while not new, are fair. There is not a newsroom in this country where journalists aren’t worried about a decline in enterprise reporting. Foreign coverage is fading. Most of us covering Will and Kate inwardly cringed at the unfailing boosterism (Really, no scrumming?). Try guessing the dress sizes of the girls in print versus the girls in broadcast sometime. And for a generation that came of age amid Twitter, Facebook and blogging, some of these legacy notions of objectivity do seem archaic and unreasonable.
That said, a career isn’t made in a blog post. In every newsroom in North America, journalists who are just as principled as Kai Nagata are fighting for those same values in small, professional and invisible ways. They fight for stories that would otherwise be buried. They fight for time and resources. They kill fluff. Herein lies the fairest criticism levelled against Kai: Quitting doesn’t fix the problem. Kai, did you talk to your editors and mentors about your concerns? Wishing for stories about Athens and Misrata is fine, what about pitching the untold stories in your own neck of the woods? Did you fight for those? In only a year on the job, how could you possibly have done everything within your power to strengthen your own reporting?
I’m not comfortable with how easily Kai is being written off. It’s easy to be cynical and dismissive. Adopting a smarmy, self-regarding tone garners more hits. I know. I’ve done it myself. Sincerity is a harder sell. It’s fair to point out that media is focused on keeping eyeballs and generating profit. Kai should have known better about what he was getting into — Local TV journalism was perhaps not the place for the opinionated thinking man. Duh.
But leaving all idealism to the purview of the ingénue; assuming only the young are silly enough to still hold real values; subverting the public service element of for-profit journalism is far more dangerous than naivete. Those are the foundations of a corrupt media culture; one in which reporters and editors with ideals have no solid ground on which to fight.
Do I have any solutions here? Nah. At 27, I’m halfway between cocksure abandonment and a mortgage. Sometimes you lose to live to fight another day. Sometimes you stand your ground. I’m just starting to get a grasp on when to do what. I’m not giving up.
In the meantime, I have figured out what to do with the mint growing wildly on my patio. I’ve moved on, to mojitos, more specifically, and maybe doughnuts. Kai, like everyone else, you’re welcome to join me if you’re near Cowtown.
How come a record number of you hit up our website?
Randomly selected mandatory appendectomies in US airport lounges imminent.
New York Times: Air security is expected to tighten, particularly for international flights into the United States, in light of recent intelligence that terrorists might be considering boarding flights with surgically implanted explosive devices, an American security official said Wednesday.
At some point, we’re all going to have to accept the grim fact that the greatest protection we have against terrorism is the incompetence of the terrorists.