If we go to the movie theater, we like to know if the film we are seeing is a comedy, sci-fi, horror, drama, action or mystery before we pay for the popcorn.
In the media world, we like things packaged. It helps in determining what we will spend time on.
For news, it is the same. If we watch Fox News, we know that it will be presented from a conservative base. We know it will be liberal if it comes from MSNBC. For objective journalism, it is harder to tell these days. I my opinion, BBC is probably the best, middle-of-the-road coverage.
When you work in the field for enough time, your opinions can shine through, even despite efforts not to let it happen.
On Saturday, longtime White House journalist Helen Thomas passed away. Working for UPI and then Hearst, she covered 10 different presidents.
Thomas was a trailblazer, breaking traditional gender roles with her inclusion into the Gridiron Club as the first woman member, and then the first female president in 1993. She had the center, front-row seat in the press briefing room and became known as the Dean of the White House Media Corps.
When she left the United Press International for Hearst, the new post allowed her to become more of an analyst than a journalist. However, her opinions on the Middle East ended up being her undoing.
She broke away from what we’ve become accustomed to from our reporters covering Washington. As a columnist, she was allowed to sharedwhat she thought. However, some took her words on Israelis in Palestine to heart, and it proved to be too much for a woman who earned her right to cover the U.S. government.
"I deeply regret my comments I made last week regarding the Israelis and the Palestinians. They do not reflect my heart-felt belief that peace will come to the Middle East only when all parties recognize the need for mutual respect and tolerance. May that day come soon," Thomas shared in a statement following her retirement in June 2010.
News on her career will be in the spotlight today. People will mention her accomplishments while starting coverage with the Kennedy administration. They will mention her criticisms of George W. Bush, and her taking Barack Obama to task on the war in Afghanistan. They will pull excerpts from her book about seeing presidents at times of their greatest triumphs and their greatest falls, like when Bill Clinton had a lapse in personal judgment.
Being of Lebanese descent, the news out of the Middle East was always held close, and her opinions on the topic is what lead to the end of a long and fruitful career.
In the end, people like things packaged, and I think she learned the hard way on what people wanted out of people covering the news at that time. Little did we see then what the state of journalism has changed into what we see now, where the journalist observers of politics have turned into talking head pundits like the ones they are used to covering.
Media is bombarding us everywhere.
Instead of sheltering his brain from the onslaught, Steve embraces the news stories, entertainment, billboards, blogs, talk shows and everything in between.
The former writer, editor and producer in TV, radio, Web and newspapers, will be talking about what media does in our community and how it shapes who we are and what we do.