My Valentine to Myself

Chez has gotten more than 100 comments on his blog since CNN fired him. Almost all are supportive. And then there’s this one:

anonymous said…
How can you be so dumb, after 16 years in TV you thought you could get away by writing your opinions about current affairs and such under your true identity? I mean what were you thinking!!! And hello your bio mentions that you work for CNN. No matter how personal your opinion is, it will still reflect on the company that you work for. Heck, you know there are journalists who don’t vote so that their coverage of news remains unbiased!!!! This is not just about freedom of speech its about journalistic integrity. Who the fuck wants to know about your personal opinion when as a journalist you gotta remain unbiased. If not that you could have atleast tried using some common sense. Of course they were going to fire you when you start writing for a well known website. And guess what pal, as hard as it may sound, you are not likely to land a job in a major network anytime soon. Everyone has the same ground rule and if you owned a media company you would too. Good luck and next time sit back and “think” a little.
From a fellow AMer

Ask me why I care.

Because years ago, I probably would have felt the same way as this guy. Chez took a huge risk knowing full well his company was more likely than not to frown on the endeavor and dismiss him unceremoniously. He doesn’t deserve one ounce of sympathy for that.

However, after being in the news business for more than a decade myself and having walked the hallowed halls of the company that let Chez go, I can in good conscience say that Chez was the better journalist – and in some regards, the better man – for the opinions he put out on current affairs. He never lied about who he was. He never hid the fact that he worked in news. The network wasn’t dialed in enough online to find him until his name hit The Huffington Post three weeks ago even though he had plenty of loyal readers long before that moment. Chez never claimed to write on behalf of CNN, and the absurd notion that journalists don’t have a personal opinion or are somehow required to shed all shadows of common sense and humanity in order to deliver facts as facts is so very much a part of what’s shred the business to bits.

CNN made a mistake in failing to lay out an appropriate anti-blogging policy even though this is not the first time this issue’s come up…in the same building. Have we learned nothing? Make people sign something saying they will not keep a personal blog during their time of employment at CNN because said journal may inadvertently reflect upon the corporation. If CNN’s that concerned, then lay it out there. Someone doesn’t want to sign it? Fine. Go work somewhere else. You have that right too. But don’t tiptoe around the issue because you want to seem all hip and cool and Internet-savvy and blog-friendly. You’re either embracing the new medium or running from it. You can’t jog alongside it and then complain when it sprints for the finish line without you.

Love him or hate him, Chez was nothing if not honest. About his past. About his future. And about what he thought of the industry we both adored and are now somewhat ashamed to have called a calling. Plenty of people get paid plenty of dollars to voice feelings under the umbrella of news outlets. And as I said yesterday, the networks, in turn, make plenty of money off those feelings. Chez threw his on the table for free.

I – for one – wanted to know about his personal opinion. Not his opinion as an unbiased journalist turning wire copy into quippy AM prompter copy. But as a sharp writer with talent for turning the thoughts most are too timid to share into essays you want to share with everyone.

Chez doesn’t care to land another job at a major network anytime soon because the Internet now lets him do better work elsewhere.

And if you – fellow AMer – think the collection of corporate suits in that major media network value your objective journalistic talent and commitment for even the slightest of seconds, you’re the one who hasn’t thought it through.

This – as a journalist – I know for a fact.

4 thoughts on “My Valentine to Myself”

  1. I enjoyed reading your comment about Chez’s “dismissal” from CNN,and it’s nice to know that there are truly independent people in tv news, so thanks for that also. and your blog is cool as well.

  2. Wait. Let me get something straight. The network that brings us Glenn Beck and Lou Dobbs, two of the biggest hatemongers on tv, is worried about what someone writes in his free time?

    How’s that immigrant bashing going for you, CNN?

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