It’s really fascinating how, in today’s times, the media has become such a celebrity circus. For example, would that little boy from Cuba named Elian ever be such a celebrity if it weren’t for the reporters who gave so much attention and controversy to the story?
Moreover, the media figures of today’s national news have turned into something bigger than the news itself. I’m namely referring to the big three: NBC’s Tom Brokaw, ABC’s Peter Jennings, and CBS’s Dan Rather, as well as the countless other local anchors and reporters in top markets all around the country.
Dwight Lauderdale, Jacquie Sosa, Tony Segretto, Jennifer Valoppi, Jennifer Santiago….the list goes on and on. You probably recognize some of these names, right? Well you should if you watch local news at all. These people have become famous doing what they do in the South Florida market, and that’s just one market, albeit a damn big one.
About a month ago, I attended a public forum that featured prominent local and national news journalists, among them Peter Jennings, who facilitated the panel. The purpose was to discuss a series of controversial issues facing the City of Miami. But Jennings is so prominent and popular that his presence generated more buzz than the meeting itself. After the presentation, he was literally ambushed by gawkers and bombarded with autograph requests.
Unfortunately, that is precisely why this industry is so alluring to so many people. The fame. The power. The big bucks at the top. But the grim reality remains that competition is fierce and that only a minute handful make it there. You have to be good at what you do, have “the look,” often be at the right place at the right time, and hope that luck is on your side.
And from there, it all depends on the ratings.
We watch a particular newscast or station because we like who we see and how they give us the information, often times not because of what is being said. If they don’t appeal to us, we simply click the remote and another one appears. The media offers us a slew of styles to choose from: small and perky to the tall and dry. Before we know it, these strangers become part of our household-and shortly thereafter their moral standards become our own.
Despite all of this celebrity brouhaha, there is and will always remain a responsibility to be upheld by these journalists. That no matter how infamous or how much of a household name one becomes, the ultimate priority should lie in not yourself, but needing to dispense news to the public. It’s that need that should drive journalism. And that is what drives me.
It’s all an ironic circumstance, I know, and by choosing to pursue it as a career, I am feeding into it. But I firmly believe that a passion must exist in and of the world of news first, and only from there can you achieve success.
Derek Bramble is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism and theater.