It’s been said that the most dangerous place in the world is being between a politician and a camera; the theory being that the politician will do anything to get in front a camera for some publicity. Having known many a political figure, I can say that there is a certain element of truth to that.
Like most media hounds, I too have been known to be assertive with members of the press. I’ve chased down a reporter who was doing a story that I wanted to be quoted on. I’ve sat around the empty ballroom atop the Sheraton Delfina waiting for a reporter to finish up with the interview before me so that I can have a 30-second conversation with him and make a new contact.
My publicist has his own speed dial button on both my office and cell phones. I regularly troll the wires to see if there is a good opportunity for my name and commentary to be inserted into the public forum.
As a writer of a weekly column for almost 10 years now, I’ve written many stories, and I’ve had many items pitched to me about what would make for a good story. People send me their books and products that they are hoping I will write about and get them some publicity. My columns for the Daily Press, Huffington Post, the GoodMenProject and others are circulated across the Internet by people who think that I have something to offer.
So when I complain about the media, and its content, I’m not doing so as someone who has an ax to grind, or out of illogical jealousy that someone else is getting publicity. I have personal experience with the world of media, from both sides, and that makes for an informed opinion.
I have been on roundtable discussions with media celebrities such as Gloria Allred and I can share that she is gracious in person. Aggressive as she is when the red light comes on, she also remembers that others are there as well for promotion of their services and she respects that.
People have hounded me to do a story about their lives and the grave injustices that the family court system has done to them. I regularly receive letters, e-mails and boxes of papers from fathers and mothers who feel that they were wronged by some judge. Politely declining to cover some stories is part of being a provider of content to my editor.
In the almost 10 years that I’ve been writing for the Daily Press, I’ve had multiple discussions with various editors over what is appropriate for my column, for the paper, and the media in general. The media has a job, it is to be a check on the power of government, it is to educate the public, and it is to entertain.
Lately however, I feel that the media has become unbalanced.
With the rise of the Internet and the proliferation of access to digital media such as cellphone cameras and video, the easy access to file sharing services such as Limewire, Youtube and Facebook, we have become a society that is inundated with sleazy behavior.
From wayward governors to pregnant teen moms, we have been feeding on a steady diet of atrocious behavior. This weekend’s latest round of photos being circulated by Congressman Weiner’s detractors is just the latest and most disheartening example of bad judgment.
So far this summer I’ve had three conversations in the pool at the Loews Hotel regarding the multiple stories of bad behavior by celebrities. I find it quite sad that someone would work as hard as these celebrities and politicians do, and then cause their own downfall by what is in reality very juvenile behavior. The lies are laughable, if they were so pathetic and anemic.
The collateral damage done to the families is one thing, but it is the collective damage done to our social psyche that I am worried about. It seems like there is a race to the bottom to see just how prurient and salacious we can become.
When the naked pictures of a congressman are headline making, no matter how fit he may be, it destroys the respect the office should be given.
I don’t mean to sound all Pat Robertson, but there comes a time when the media needs to ask the question of “Do we really need to share this?” I think the trashy pictures, the salacious stories, and the endless errata of people’s lives needs to be thought through a bit more. The media has a responsibility to quality journalism, and while there will always be gossip magazines, I think the mainstream media should rein in the sleaze a bit.
David Pisarra is a family law attorney focusing on father’s rights and men’s Issues in the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He can be reached at email@example.com or (310) 664-9969.