“If I had my choice I would kill every reporter in the world; but I’m sure we’d be getting reports from Hell before breakfast”
– William Tecumseh Sherman
Sonoma residents were clearly unaware that last Wednesday, April 4, was National Hug a Newsperson Day.
It was an occasion seemingly celebrated by one person and one-person only: 7-year-old Evie Walsh. And only then after a second bedtime reading of “The Whingdingdilly.”
That being said, in commemoration of National Hug a Newsperson Day, the website nationaltoday.com surveyed 1,000 news junkies to ask them their general thoughts about newspersons – and for snuggable journalists everywhere, the results are troubling to say the least.
To begin with, the survey posed a question long mused by many: “Would you hug a newsperson if you could?” (Well, Sonoma?) And a mere 4 percent said yes – an even lower percentage than those who said, “yes,” when we asked them out on dates in college. Then, as if smelling blood, the website followed up with, “Do you think your local newspersons are sexy?” Again, crickets – only 4 percent had a glad eye for the scrum. (Clearly the 95476 zip code wasn’t queried.)
But perhaps the most distressing result was that a grand total of 18 percent “think it’s a tough time to be a newsperson right now.” Oh, really America? Eighty-two percent of you think making sense of planning commission staff reports and sorting through thousand-page public-information requests is some sort of day at the beach?
Think we spend every day writing about dopey websites that make up pointless holidays? No, that’s only part of our job.
Perhaps sensing that newspersons might feel somewhat crestfallen by the results of the survey, the staff at nationaltoday.com offered a few helpful tips on how America could properly celebrate National Hug a Newsperson Day:
Hug a newsperson. Well, duh. Though they caution against stepping over the line into stalking-a-newsperson territory. It’s a bit of a grey area, actually.
Read the news. A novel concept. Those of you who have gotten this far can tick this one off your list.
Tell your favorite newsperson how much you appreciate them. (Email firstname.lastname@example.org, please.)
Though it’s not part of the journalist-cuddling survey, I’d like to recommend another way for readers to show their appreciation for newspersons that doesn’t involve mental images of spooning Jim Lehrer. And that simple gesture would be – appreciate that we at the Index-Tribune don’t work for Sinclair Broadcast Group.
Earlier this month, Sinclair Broadcast Group, which owns nearly 200 TV stations across the country and has a conservative-leaning reputation, required under threat of dismissal that its news anchors parrot a script decrying, “the troubling trend of irresponsible, one-sided news stories plaguing our country… (intended) to control ‘exactly what people think.’”
In other words, it was fake news about fake news.
The irony wasn’t lost on most media watchdogs, and Sinclair and its poor anchors – at least one of whom resigned over “forcing local news anchors to lie to their viewers” – were subsequently roasted in the headlines for what turned out to be one of several “must-run” stories Sinclair has required its local journalists to run in recent years, no questions asked.