Monday, July 13, 2009


Driving home from grocery shopping yesterday morning I could not find a single thing to listen to on the radio so I reluctantly tuned into one of the local talk stations. I sometimes do this as a self-imposed punishment for all the horrible things I have done recently, intentionally or not, and as a sort-of voluntary test-drive through purgatory in the vain hope that someday, forgiveness and redemption will be mine.

You have to understand that talk radio in Arizona is a bland, unappetizing pastiche of half-assed, inept attempts to copy the tired "styles" of Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck or whatever right-wing toilet happens to be commandeering the national airwaves at the moment. Local talk radio hosts are completely interchangeable, and seems like they are all scrambling to be the first to get to the top of Mount Stupid. But I heard someone (and it really doesn't matter who) blathering on about the recent military coup in Honduras and how of course Barack Obama is doing everything wrong by supporting the deposed president and blah blah blah, but to make his point he got someone on the phone whom he referred to as a "citizen-journalist" for a "first person" account of what was happening. Really? A "citizen-journalist?"

While the citizen-journalists's grasp on reality was nearly as tenuous as their grasp of the English language, I became intrigued by that title. There are few titles around that sound so important and noble but mean absolutely nothing. The "citizen" part implies democracy and freedom of speech and independence, while the "journalist" makes you think of someone who doggedly pursues the truth and writes it up in a professional, educated manner. Put them together and you have "citizen-journalist," a really cool title.

Truth is, it means squat. Doesn't mean they are fair, impartial and free of any personal or political agenda. They could be some derelict whom someone dragged in off the street and gave a script to read over the telephone. And you can bet that any point-of-view they espouse has been carefully and rigidly screened to back-up and reinforce the view of the talk-show host. And who's to know if they're even in Honduras or not? It could be some fat greasy guy calling in from his mother's basement in New Jersey. That person could be no more qualified to be a "citizen-journalist" than that crazy guy with all the rabbits who writes a blog.

Okay, bad example. But you know what I mean. Beware of titles, especially one that gets thrown around a radio talk-show and sounds so imperious and respectful. Usually, they are the exact opposite.

Respect people, not titles. And always question authority.

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