This is my home game entry for The Real LJ Idol. I am not competing this season but invite you to read the many fine submissions here. Week 4 is "throwback" week, with contestants choosing between five topics from previous seasons: "Moments of Devastating Beauty," 'I Dont Care About Apathy,' What I 'Should' Care About, But Dont," "Sexual Ethics," "Who's that Trip Trapping Over My LJ?" or "Current Events." I chose the topic "Current Events."
I watch more news than is probably good for any human being. But it's not because I'm a news junkie; it's my job. I transcribe cable news shows for a company that also produces transcripts of congressional hearings and business conference calls. My regular assignments include watching a Monday-through-Friday dose of CNN, Headline News and FOX News Channel. Occasionally, I also transcribe programs or interviews for MSNBC, ABC, CBS, CNN International, and NBC.
The first thing most people say when they hear about my job is, "That sounds interesting." It is, I tell them, but it's also more work than it might seem. There are strict deadlines and specific manuscript requirements for each network that must be kept straight.
The next thing people usually do is ask me how they can get hired to do what I do. I direct them to the employment section of the company Web site, knowing that the hiring process is far more selective than many people realize. My excellent typing skills were a plus, but so was my MFA in English and my experience in both print and broadcast journalism. Most people don't make it past the weedout test.
There are many advantages to my job. I love my bosses; they're easy to work with and always happy to accommodate my schedule. So while it's a contract position, meaning I don't get paid for time off, at least I can take vacation days when needed.
Another positive: I get to hear both sides of every issue. Granted, as a center left person, I hear more of the conservative point of view than I'd sometimes like, thanks to FOX, but you'd be surprised how often that turns out to be a good thing. I get insights into the dimensions of such issues as health-care reform, which sometimes makes me reconsider my own views.
A side effect of this: I have learned that Bill O'Reilly is NOT an unreasonable blowhard, despite what you might have heard. Yes, it's true that his Irish side sometimes causes his passions to get away from him, but more often, he's fair to his guests and takes a "devil's advocate" position even with his conservative guests. To paraphrase Comedy Central's Jon Stewart, he's the most rational person on the FOX News Channel. Deal with it.
For a good example of the type of debate that is typical on The O'Reilly Factor, go to the show's home page, and under "Featured Videos," select "Culture Warriors" and then "Wedding Woe." (I tried to embed it, but there's something funky going on with the coding.) The segment addresses the issue of a Louisiana justice of the peace who refused to marry an interractial couple, as well as taking on the issue of drug legalization. O'Reilly takes the devil's advocate position several times to facilitate the discussion.
The main negative of my job, however, is that unlike the typical viewer, I don't have the option of turning off something I'd rather not watch. This becomes particularly hard during times of tragedy, such as the recent Fort Hood shooting. In the following clip, CNN special investigations correspondent Drew Griffin examines the issue of radical American Muslim groups praising the shooter's actions.
While I find such stories enlightening, it can be disheartening to be subjected to a constant stream of them in the wake of a tragedy. A friend of mine, The Poet, who worked in an editor position with my company during 9/11, took up smoking again as a result. I can't say I blame him.
If you ever wonder why I don't write much about politics or current events, it's partially because I'm inundated with such topics on a daily basis. Just like a sexual abuse counselor who prefers not to see violence in movies and television, I prefer to talk about other topics in my free time.
I do, however, enjoy watching Jon Stewart, whose Comedy Central program, The Daily Show, takes a satirical look at cable news. Many nights find me laughing uproariously at his antics, sometimes even screaming at my TV, "Yes!" Case in point, this recent sketch about Stewart watching an entire episode of the FOX News Channel's Hannity, while waiting for host Sean Hannity to apologize for an error caught earlier that week by Stewart's program.
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Sean Hannity Apologizes to Jon|
At the close of the segment, Stewart announces he's going to bring out the intern who spotted Hannity's mistake. Out comes a toddling old man, who claims he is 23 years old, his apparently advanced age supposedly caused by watching Hannity nightly for five months.
I've been watching Hannity nightly for four years. And it hasn't affected me at all!
Me after finishing my daily assignments,
with a glassy-eyed stare and odd, forced smile
Current events? Oy vey!