Saturday, August 4, 2012

Chick-Fil-A Rachel: the "get" that nobody got

By now you've seen the viral video from Wednesday: the guy in the drive-thru lane berating a girl named Rachel who shows incredible grace under fire.

If I'm a News Director in that market, I'm thinking follow-up. Who is this young woman who smiled through the abuse when most of us would have said, "Hey, buddy, take your free water and get the hell out." Student, wife and mom, just a single gal making a living? What's her story? How did she learn to be so polite? Let's meet her parents. Chat with her co-workers, friends.

Thursday, no interview with Rachel. Friday, nothing. Saturday, bupkes. I can't even find any attempts to contact her. No reporter walking up to the door of the restaurant, no video of a news crew in the drive-thru window asking to speak with her.

And nothing on the other half of the story: how did the owner of the restaurant chain react? Will he pay her tuition, promote her, pay off her mortgage, hire her to do public relations, put her in a television commercial? Again, nothing.

Is this story too "nice" to warrant any coverage? I'm willing to bet if Rachel had told the guy to shut the hell up and drive there would be a line of satellite trucks outside the restaurant Thursday morning and she would have been turned into a national pariah.

In a week of feel-good stories from the Olympics, apparently no one wants a nice story from right here in our own backyard.

So here's an open invitation to Rachel: if you're interested in an interview, email me. I still love a good story. And yours is a great one.


Friday, August 3, 2012

What a chicken sandwich tells you about bias

On Wednesday I was driving through the small town of Pace, Florida when all of a sudden I found myself in a traffic jam. Which should never happen in a place like this. A quick look to my right told me why.

There was a Chick-Fil-A restaurant on the corner.

The parking lot was packed. The parking lot of the business next door was packed. There were cars parked on the lawn. The drive-through line snaked out of the parking lot, onto the main road and around the corner as far as the eye could see.

Since then I've seen similar video and photos from around the country. I'm sure you have as well.

You're probably thinking this whole controversy centers on people voicing their opinions about gay marriage. It doesn't.

It's about people, both on the left and right, being fed up with media people and politicians telling them how to think. Telling them that if they think a certain way they're wrong. Or stupid.

It's about politicians needing to realize you cannot legislate thought. Change the laws all you want, and you're still not going to change people's basic beliefs. Choose any politician in the country, and chances are at least 40 percent of the voting public voted against him. So just because someone holds office, that doesn't mean he represents the views of everyone.

But lately politicians and some journalists are starting to look a lot alike.

Here's how viewers react to bias and attempts at thought control: Imagine you're a reporter doing a man-in-the-street interview. You get a sound bite from a guy whose views are opposite of yours. You then tell the man he's stupid. He's wrong. He doesn't know what he's talking about. He doesn't understand.

How would he react? You might get a punch in the mouth. You might get in a big argument. But what's certain is that the man would never watch your station again.

That's what you're doing when you're biased, when you try to impose your opinions on someone else. You're telling viewers they're wrong, they're stupid. And you're chasing them away. You may not be doing it face to face, but the result is the same.

And you've lost all respect and credibility as a broadcaster.

Does it finally take a chicken sandwich to make the light bulb turn on?  Does a one hour wait to get fast food in a state like New Jersey tell you anything? Does it speak volumes that people in New Jersey (who are not exactly noted for patience) would actually wait that long?

Apparently some have forgotten that the right to free speech also gives one the right to independent thought and the right to have an opinion.

And here's the big irony: when I got into this business, we were the one group of people who weren't supposed to have an opinion.

Now some of us apparently think we're the only people entitled to one.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Grapevine honor roll, one man band division

Here's a unique package about a blind golfer. Yep, you read that right.

It's an amazing story told through the eyes of someone who cannot see.


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A polite "no" today can mean a "yes" tomorrow

If you take a look at the right side of main page, you'll run into a section you probably don't pay much attention to. "News Directors named" lists the NDs who have moved. Yep, they move as often as reporters and anchors, and it's a good way to keep tabs on them.

Go ahead and click on that section and check out the moves. You'll see some people moving from Palookaville to decent places.

And if you'd been rude or condescending to someone who used to be in Palookaville, you've shot your chances in the foot for a job in that nice place the ND has landed.

At some time in your career you'll get interest from a News Director in a place that doesn't interest you in the least. It might be a nowhere place, have no quality of life, be too hot or too cold, whatever. You can't just blow off these people because you have no interest.

When this happens, you need to be polite, return calls, and have a valid excuse as to why you aren't interested in the job.

Let's say you're from upstate New York. You love cold weather, snow, skiing, ice skating. When the thermometer hits 80 you suffer. You get a call from Arizona, where the heat is legendary. You have no interest in working there, but you can't just ignore the News Director. So you return the call, thank him for the interest and give him a reason why you aren't interested. You can't deal with the heat. You want to stay close to family. Your significant other can't move. Whatever. Come up with something and have it ready should you get a call.

Why go through all the trouble? Because that ND in Arizona might end up in a cold weather place you do like. He'll remember that reporter whose tape he liked but couldn't take the heat. And maybe he'll give you a call, or consider you when you apply for a job at his new station.

You should also have a rolodex of News Directors who have been nice to you or shown interest, and keep tabs on their movements. The guy who wanted you five years ago might be in a place today in which you'd love to work.

So if you're not at all interested, have a polite "no" ready with a good excuse why. It could turn into a "yes" in the future.


Sunday, July 29, 2012


Apparently some people think things you post online shouldn't be fair game when you apply for a job.

Welcome to the real world, kids. If I'm an employer I'm going to leave no stone unturned when checking out a candidate. And I'm not alone. You may think it's "unethical" (give me a break) but putting questionable stuff online will do nothing but cost you a job.