Another week, another media storm ignited over a person in media having an opinion.
This week, it was ESPN’s Jemele Hill, who called the president a white supremacist. The White House, the most powerful institution in the world, responded that Hill should lose her job.
But it’s not the only example. Editors from Politico, my former employer, talked about how they scour job applicants’ Twitter feeds to ensure they’ve never expressed an opinion — even if it’s one as benign as “racism is bad.”
Ironically, part of the reason I landed on Politico’s radar back in 2010 was for having opinions: This column I wrote about newspapers hiring a new wave of young, white, male bloggers caught the attention of a managing editor there, who advocated for my hiring. Once there, though, I was expected to leave any semblance of my personality at the door. Once I got a severe finger-wagging for tweeting the phrase “headdesk” to indicate my frustration with a politician who expressed a desire to re-instate “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Not wanting to go backward on gay rights was too spicy an opinion.
At VOSD, we created a statement of our institutional values and biases, and they’re opinions that are just as tame as “racism is bad” or “taking away people’s rights is bad.” They include, for example: Schools could be better, and governments should be transparent. Even stating those seemingly uncontroversial values is pretty radical. Those are the only institutional opinions we have. Our writers are on their own beyond them.
VOSD has gotten less credit for something that I, as an employee who’s worked under much different circumstances, really treasure. We get to be people. We get to be fired up about everything from the president to breakfast burritos. It sure bothers some people! But I think it is part of the organization’s appeal as well. Media personalities are called personalities, after all, not human information transmitters.
We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?
My chuckle that began with the cover photograph, became a cackle when I read the part that suggested an abhorrence of racism. Where was the outrage when SDSU, goaded by the City of San Francisco, produced the graph on biased-policing, shown here and distributed it to local media. Both text statements are obviously made false by the graph that purports to support them.
In defence of VOSD, I admit that most local news media ignored the graph and reported the text; not much of a defence I admit. Damning is the fact that VOSD knew that that form of "soft" racism —but one as damaging as that of Charlottesville— was coming, well before it arrived. VOSD suppressed it, the truth, and kept silent. I suppose that is better to keep silent that to tell a lie; but I would have rather seen VOSD tell the truth.
Finally; I must say that earlier this year VOSD wrote a piece that claimed the SDSU report was watered-down; that's not the half of it. Methinks the lady doth protest too much.
well, i for one appreciate VoSD, the opinions of the staff, and Sara Libby on Sunday (especially what she's reading).
however, i don't appreciate things like calling a word “headdesk”a phrase and turning the word intact into a phrase (in tact).
where does the managing editor go for dieting/proofing?
and, btw, calling the president a white supremacist is not opinion, it is fact.
the media gives too much press to what others in the media say, since the public is not really buying much of it.