Friday, December 11, 2009

Tiger, Grrrrr

The only Tiger I grew up hearing about was Tony. It's grrrrrrrreat! And up until now, one could arguably compare Tiger Woods' squeaky clean image to Tony the Tiger. Granted the latter is a ficticious character, but so is being squeaky clean. Don't you think? Perfection is impossible, unless you believe in Jesus. But this blog is not about religion, although these days people tend to worship just about everyone, including Tiger Woods.

12 women. That's how many the golf pro has been linked to (probably more after I post this). Seems as though every day a new woman, in search of stardom and dollars signs shining brightly in her eyes, is coming forward with details about their alleged sexual escapades. Because seriously, why else would ANYONE come forward and talk to the PUBLIC about alleged extramarital affairs, other than to risk tarnishing their image and future? $$$ Cha-ching. I saw a television interview with Tiger's ex-girlfriend from his high school/college years the other day. GIVE ME A BREAK. How sad is that? Wonder how much Inside Edition forked over for that interview?

Listen...whatever. Whatever about the number of women and his alleged affairs. He's a public figure, I get it. People are interested, I get it. People love to gossip; trust me, I get it. It's in our nature to gossip and gawk at other peoples' problems because it makes us feel better about our messed up lives. Let's face it, we all have issues that we keep buried in our closets at home. Messed up celebrities make us feel less shame about decisions we've made in the past. We're lucky our problems aren't plastered on the front page of the New York Post. Granted, you may say, "Well Tiger knows he's famous and because of that he's held to a higher standard!" Maybe, but do you think he started playing golf to become famous? Like with most people, it starts with a passion for something(actors, musicians, comedians, athletes) and then in some cases, it evolves into stardom.

I'm not saying what Tiger did was excusable (the fame, the pressure got to him...who knows). I'm just saying why are we SO shocked by his behavior, or any celebrities' bad behavior for that matter? I feel more sorry for his wife...who has to live through this prolonged public humiliation. I guess what I'm wondering is, why are we (the media) SO fascinated with Tiger's alleged affairs? Is it in the public's best interest to know? IDK and IDC.

Done with this rant.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Excerpt from "A Journalista's Journey"



It’s another Sunday. There are a lot of those. Days where I sit and reflect. And it’s tough not to, sitting on this plane. I’m flying back to Salt Lake City from visiting my family in California. I try to go as often as I can. Nobody tells you how badly you’ll miss your family when pursuing a career in television news. I guess it should have been common sense. I remember one of my mentors, Ken Wayne who currently works for KTVU Ch. 2 (Fox, San Francisco market) telling me that I’d have to move for my first job, warning me that it could take years before I get the opportunity to come back to California, where I consider home.

“I know that,” I said.

What I didn’t know was just how desolate of a city I would end up in. It’s what some describe as the armpit of the country. I know; it’s not politically correct but I figured since I heard this terminology used more than once during my two year stint there, there was something to it. It is better known, or more popularly referred to as a city where snowbirds flock to during winter months. Today, it has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, although I don’t how accurate that is considering it is nowhere near being one of the biggest cities in the country. In fact, it is what I consider a small city. A place where everyone knows everyone and nobody goes unnoticed. A place where you could quickly become a big fish in a small pond. The truth is I had never heard of Yuma before I moved there. I knew where to find Arizona on a map, but Yuma was not part of my geography class.

Anyway. Being on this flight makes me appreciate how convenient living in Salt Lake City is, compared to Yuma that is. It’s all relative. Flying home from little ole Yuma was an all-day event sometimes. And sitting in a jumper plane that felt like it was going to crash was always so nerve wracking. I limited my trips home, convinced that the odds would someday work against me. Small planes almost always crash, or so it seems. Working as a reporter in Utah has convinced me of that.

So back to Yuma. Sometimes I’m scatter-brained. I always thought I was a good example of someone who could multi-task. Talk to someone at the same time that I’m typing on my computer and eating, but I am too obvious. It is not my strongest characteristic. Employers would say it’s a skill I lack. I say it only means I like to focus on the task at hand, and it could also mean that I’m a good friend. You’ll know when I’m listening, and most of the time I’ll avoid trying to multi-task, because I always get busted and then a wave of guilt consumes me. No one likes to feel like they’re not your priority. Yuma. I promise not to get distracted again. Not in this chapter anyway. I had never heard of Yuma, before applying for the job of reporter. Yuma was one of about 25 positions open in small market television markets across the country at the time. Small market is just a fancy term for small city. Yuma is a small city. The bigger the city, the bigger the market. New York ranks number one. L.A. comes in second. You get the idea. Yuma, at the time (2004) was market 172. It has moved up, thanks to an increase in population but not by much. Salt Lake City is currently (2009) market 31.

I began applying for jobs during my last semester at California State University of Hayward. I majored in Mass Communications with an emphasis in broadcasting. The emphasis took me an extra six months. By this time, I had already completed an internship in the investigative department at KRON 4 in San Francisco and one year at KYVU, which is where I met some great mentors that not only pointed me in the right direction, but helped me get that first job. Sure, part of it certainly had to do with my drive but just as much is owed to their confidence in me. For some reason, “they” thought I had a good shot at this. I remember the first day of my internship at KRON. The head of the department was explaining my duties as an intern, when she abruptly interrupted herself, looked me up and down and said, “I hope you don’t think you’re going to get an on-air job out of this. It doesn’t work that way.”

“I know, “ I said.

And there was a lot of that at first. In fact, I had a similar encounter with Ken Wayne, who is someone I consider a great friend and mentor. I was sitting at a round table listening to a seminar in a college classroom. It was one of those career fairs. Ken cam over to our table that had one other girl and a couple guys, all sitting there eagerly interested in a career in television. Ken sat down next to the other girl, who I’ll call Angie. He asked us what we wanted to do for a living.

Angie quickly and enthusiastically exclaimed, “I’ve always wanted to be an anchor at KTVU!” Ken chuckled. And there’s always a lot of that too. Chuckling when girls say they want to be an anchor. For some reason, veterans in the business don’t like it when someone’s aspirations only include being an anchor. Why? Because it gives of the perception that all you want is to be on television. And if that’s the case, go to Hollywood and become an actor. Don’t waste your time, because while this is a rewarding career, there’s hardly anything glamorous about it.

Side note: if you’re wondering if I’ll ever circle back to Yuma in this chapter, I do.

So…Ken looks at me and I answer “I want to be a reporter.”

I think he liked that, and honestly it’s what I wanted. I had no intent in being an anchor at the time. Ken, however wasn’t sure how candid I was being. He had skeptical plastered on his face, examining my response closely just like a good reporter would. And when he nodded, in what I thought was approval, he hastily said “You’ll have to take out that nose ring.”

By the way, it was a tiny stud but I replied, “I know.”

And that’s how I met Ken. It wasn’t how I got the internship at KTVU, which is what paved the way to my first gig in T.V. news. It started in community college. I was writing for the school paper at the time, my sophomore year, just a semester before transferring to CalState when I suddenly panicked. “What the hell am I going to do for a living?” I knew, always knew and dreamt of becoming a published author, a writer of some sort. But my parents had already made it clear to me that, “Nobody can just become a writer.” After months of writing for the Express, I thought I could have a column in the New York Times. I had obviously been watching too much Sex in the City, my friends said. “Do you know the chances of landing a job like that?” Geez. Why was everyone so discouraging?

I took a career placement test at the counseling office. Lord, that was a long list of questions but within days I had some answers, some suggested career paths. Are you ready for this? Because I wasn’t. There was a list of four jobs that best fit my personality type.

1. Librarian: This one surprised me, despite my love for reading. I didn’t think I had much of an interest in books. Not when it came to putting them back on the shelves anyway. And while I know librarians do a lot more than just shelve books, I was certain I’d be fired for talking too much. I thought to myself at the time, there’s no way I can whisper for eight hours a day, five days a week. The upside? I could come up with some cute outfits. I could even wear librarian glasses! I could be the SEXY librarian. Uh no…

2. Technical Writer: See, I knew it. I was meant to be a writer. But what was the technical part all about? After a quick google search and consultation with a career counselor, I scratched that off my list.

3. Public Relations: That’s it! A smile spread across my face. All of a sudden, everything was crystal clear to me. I could incorporate my love for writing in this line of work. I didn’t bother researching it much after talking with a few people about the possibly of an endeavor in public relations. It seemed to make sense to me at the time. They are writers. And they are people-persons. I am a people person. I was just happy that one of the suggestions on this list made sense to me, because I was starting to get worried.

You’re probably wondering what Myer Briggs suggested my fourth best career option would be.

4. Broadcaster: I remember my eyes quickly seeing that word. I skimmed it, uninterested and thinking nothing of it. I don’t’ think I even had an emotion attached to it. It was just like, whatever.

“I’m going to work in Public Relations!” Excited about my new revelation, I told everyone, including my friend at the paper. I’ll call her Fran. Fran said I should go to the open-call internship at KTVU the following week. Cool, I thought. Public Relations for a television station! I quickly drafted a resume and cover letter, and showed up the next week at the open-call. I had no idea. There were hundreds of college students there, packed in the lobby waiting for it to start. It was unsettling, because for once I realized the chances of getting the internship were probably slim. We were shuffled into the studio, which is where one by one, someone from each department delivered a snooze fest of speeches. The first was community relations. Blab blab blab. Then came time for the news department to talk. The woman at the podium asked everyone interested in a news internship to raise their hand. Virtually everyone’s hands went up. My confidence was instantly restored. This is good, maybe I will get that PR internship after all, I said to myself convincingly. To tell you the truth, I paid no attention to that woman. It was only when the head of the PR department stood at the podium to speak when my eyes and ears perked. Oh my God, I’m so excited! At the end of their presentations, everyone was asked to stand in line at the appropriate section. I pranced my way over to the PR table, scoping the beautiful blondes in suits ahead of me in line. Oh boy. Maybe wearing this outfit was a bad idea. I’m a strong believer in being myself, and apparently wearing a dark denim jacket with jeans and black top was being myself. My hair was frizzy and a wavy mess. I had J.Lo hoop earrings on, but the truth was I didn’t even own a suit.

My turn was almost up. I surveyed the man sitting at the table. He had a pleasant smile on this face, with kind eyes. He seemed so enthusiastic. I took a deep breath. First impressions are everything. I extended my right hand, smiled with a mouth full of crooked teeth and said, “Hi, I’m Nineveh!” What happened next would literally change the course of my future. I’m going to hit pause, because it was one of those moments where without realizing it, doors opened and destiny took over. You can laugh. But it wasn’t until years later, after I got offered a job in Yuma that I realized the significance of this one moment. So from time to time, when I think back about how I got here, I remember to hit pause.

Push Play.

“Hi, I’m Nineveh!” The man, sitting across from whom I will identify shortly looked back at me, with his small blue eyes, smiled and said “Have you ever thought of working television news?”
“No,” I replied.
“Well you should, “ he shot back.
“I want to work in PR,” I stammered.
“Are you sure?” he asked. OF COURSE I’M SURE I screamed, in my head.
“Yes”…a long, drawn out yes.
“Tell you what. I’ll only give you this internship if you promise me you’ll shadow a reporter for a day.”
It was an odd way to negotiate since I had no genuine interest in television, but I reluctantly accepted.
“Okay, I promise.”
I know what you’re thinking, but that’s seriously how it unfolded. I don’t think he even glanced at my resume or cover letter. He didn’t ask me questions about why I wanted to work in PR. He seemed almost convinced, from the beginning that I would one day be working in news. And he was right.

Kenny Wardell changed the course of my life. The one of many, but one of the first to believe in me. Kenny is a great man, someone with integrity, whose intentions could never be questioned. That, I soon discovered. There was nothing sleazy about his desire to help me. I don’t know what he saw in me that day. You’d have to ask him, but I’m glad he did. Years later, I’m still in touch with him. He is a great friend, mentor and a wonderful human being who as I discovered years later, helped so many other young college students realize their dreams of working in this business too. I spent three months learning the ropes with Kenny. He took me to every event. I worked what I thought at the time was tirelessly, discovering the world of public relations. He never discouraged me, just showed me what life in PR could be like. A glimpse. And because he was so passionate and still is, about PR, it was a positive experience. I didn’t hear about the deal we’d made before I was hired as an intern until weeks before my internship in the PR department would come to an end. We were in one of the rooms, where the announcer’s voice is recorded. You know that voice you hear every night before the news? “Tonight…dangers lurking in your cupboard.” Yeah, that one. A deep voice that gets paid big bucks.

“This is so rad!” I squealed. It was a first for me. I had so much fun during my internship, but there was something about that man’s Barry White voice that excited me. Kenny brought up the promise I made. “So how about it?” I have you set up with Tom Vacar; he’s one of our best reporters. Next Tuesday. Meet him at 9am in the newsroom.”
Huh? I thought. “You already set it up?”

The truth is, I forgot about the promise I made, and while I didn’t mull over it, I was always good at keeping my word. I knew I had to do it. Yes, in a way I felt trapped. Maybe it was the fear. Fear of the unknown. He took me through the newsroom that day, introducing me to everyone. There were dozens of cubicles lined up next to each other, people talking back and forth, phones ringing, others furiously typing and talking to themselves, women in the green room getting ready for the evening newscast. It was a different world. I felt the buzz, the adrenaline, the excitement. I was curious. What planet was I on, and why I hadn’t I been here before? It was like a secret society, and the only way to earn the right of passage was to meet someone on the inside.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Negative Nellie, Negative Nancy, Negative Nineveh?

Negativity. I'm convinced it's a philosophical concept, practiced by millions worldwide. You may be a negative nellie, negative nancy...whatever you call it. But I had to ask MYSELF, "Am I a Negative Nineveh?" Suddenly I'm starting to dislike my name. After carefully analyzing whether or not I belong to the "Negative Nellie" club(no membership fees by the way; it's free to join!), I decided yeah. I can be negative. No, I'm not a pessimist. I'm the opposite. An optimist who has always believed there are skittles at the end of a rainbow, and leprechauns with gold too. Okay, sounds rather fanciful but the truth is my self-exploration journey (especially lately) has more to do with whether I'm a victim of circumstances. Yes, I shouted to myself! I'm negativity's VICTIM. Throw negativity in jail! Negativity is guilty for causing my tension headaches and the fine lines on my face. Wish it was that easy. Playing the blame game is always the easiest way out...

Negativity crept up on me. It didn't just possess me overnight. It took weeks, maybe months. It's hard to self-diagnose yourself, but as I float in this cloud of negativity, I wonder "How did I become so negative?" I contemplate. I was raised by a family of drama queens? No, that's not it. If anything that's what makes me so eccentric. I'm proud of that. Wait, is eccentricity a bad thing? According to wikipedia, maybe. Anyway, I went through a list of questions, not appropriate for my blog, but I think I've figured out part of the problem. I have surrounded myself with Negative Nellies. Yes, people who think to themselves "my life is so tragic." But fading Negative Nellies out of your life is not as easy as pushing the delete button on your computer. Besides, sometimes it's fun listening to Negative Nancy talk about her dating disasters. Oh and while we're on the topic, there are plenty of Negative Neds out there too. Negativity isn't just reserved for females. I wonder who coined the term anyway? Could it have been a MALE?

Clearly I've veered off topic. But only momentarily. The point is...what is the point!? No more negativity. Yes, I'm going live in a bubble of happiness. Unfortunately it's not in my nature to bake cookies and bring them into work. I buy candy and dump it in the middle of the newsroom. Yeah, right on the floor. Trick or treat. No, I'm teasing. I at least put it on a table, but that's just me. And while we're on the subject, "me" doesn't want to have negative thoughts anymore. Because negativity breeds negativity. It's like a vicious cycle. I should just quit cold turkey. So here it goes...

Dear Negative Nelly,

I want to break up. For good this time. It's not you. It's me. It's just time we both go our separate ways. And while I know you'll drop by once in a while to say hello, I want you to know that I'm serious about our relationship. It's over.

Your ex,
Nineveh (p.s. I'm officially dropping "Negative" from my name. My lawyer will send you the paperwork.)

In all seriousness, transforming into a more positive person won't be easy. But I think it starts with recognition. Then action. Then change. Not that I necessarily want to change who I am. Not at all. Just those negative thoughts that stop so many of us from chasing our dreams. Those negative thoughts that get us down during the day. Those negative thoughts that do us no good!

Now ask yourself, is your glass half empty or half full? And if it's not the latter, wouldn't life be so much more grand if it were? Yeah, I'm starting to think so too.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I'm human too.

I've been obsessed with reading about journalists and their journeys. Especially lately. And partially because I wonder how much of my insanity is normal. Anyway. I'm reading Robin Meade's book, "Morning Sunshine!" Anybody watch her on HLN in the mornings? I don't. But only because we work the same hours. I know who she is, and I've seen her "work." She seems so real. And I say that because so many of us aren't. I probably shouldn't say that as if it's entirely true; I can only speak for myself. I think I'm real. Most of the time anyway. But I'll tell you what I have learned. The more I am myself on the air, the less self-conscious I am off the air. And visa versa. Be yourself. Now there's a novel idea! But so many of us focus on the public's perception of who we are that we forget to just "be". No matter how hard you try, there will always be a viewer or viewers that bother to email or call you about how terrible you look, and what a horrible human being you are. It's like being bullied all over again. Looking back, I'm thankful to that idiot Craig who called me an "Hairy Iraqi Cow", among other hateful things. It helped me build enough armor to deal with the baggage that comes with being an "on-air personality." Why can't it just be my "personality"? The point of this blog isn't to talk about who I am on television because the truth is I'm a multi-faceted person. I get angry, I cry...sometimes I lose control and yell at the people I love. Sorry. I'd like to think I'm also a compassionate person, who loves to laughs out loud. Just like everyone else. Just like you I'm still trying to figure out my place in this world. And I have to admit, there have been some challenges along the way, in this thing I like to call my journey as a journalist. I've cried myself to sleep many nights. Nights that have been packed with plenty of nightmares about the stories I cover, the people I meet, and my managers.

Anyway. Robin Meade's book is incredible. It's a simple read about how to build confidence, whether you work in television news or not. It's about not being afraid of who you are. I think so many of us are told to "tone it down", be more like this or like that. I'm convinced that's bad advice. Looking back now, I wish books like this had existed when I was in college because while I was busy learning the art of journalism, no one---yeah, NOT ONE professor taught us about what it means to be a "semi" public figure. And I say semi, because I still have a hard time dealing with the knowledge that my life is not entirely private. So instead of trying to hide myself, I just let it all hang out. Because I think that's easier than juggling two different personalities. The crazy thing is nobody, not a News Director, mentor or teacher guided me on how to balance my life as a journalist. Not until now. So I guess I just want to thank Robin for being so blunt. I dig the honesty. Go ahead tell 'em. We're not perfect. And behind that smiling face, there are days that we feel anxious. And unlike her, I haven't been able to master the art of attacking that anxiety head on. I guess it takes time.

I have to admit. Before Robin's book hit store shelves, I began writing my own book. I started to outline my journey...digging deep into my fears as a reporter and how I've overcome some of them. I was hoping to create a guide for future journalists, not that I'm an expert or anything. But after 60 pages into my book, I stopped writing. That was more than a month ago. Why? Writer's block maybe? Nah. I've always got something to say. Then the light bulb went off. Ding! I was so damn focused on writing for someone else. I've been worried about picking and choosing my words carefully. The point is to write about MY journey. It's supposed to be raw, unedited. Thanks to Robin (as strange as it seems), I'm once again focused on why I started chronicling my journey as a journalist. For myself, as selfish as that sounds. And if there happen to be people out there that are interested in what I have to say, then I'll humbly say thank you! I'm still amazed at how wonderful people are; how they've embraced me with all my flaws.

Thank you Robin. And thank you, for taking the time to read this. That's all I wanted to say, lol. Very cheesy, I know.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

10 Dirtiest Foods: Tell me something I don't already know!

As if eating packaged food that's been sitting on dirty, dusty shelves for years doesn't gross me out enough. Now The CDC releases the top ten foods that will make you sick. "This should be an interesting read," I think to myself.

Then I see the list. The usual suspects: Chicken, ground beef, ground turkey. All of them can pick up germs? REALLY!? Thanks for enlightening me (insert sarcasm here).

But wait, it gets betters. Raw Oysters could carry salmonella or E. coli? No kidding!? Anything raw for that matter. Thanks for the two cents.

Number 6 on the dirtiest foods list: Cantaloupe. Yeah, the peel can collect bacteria. Did you know that? Yeah, I didn't either (sprinkled with more sarcasm).

Peaches. Yeah, apparently they don't come blemish-free either. Oh and the pre-packaged, pre-washed lettuce you buy probably isn't really thoroughly washed either. "Wash it yourself to make sure it's clean," advises The CDC. Thanks Mom!

Cold cuts and scallions also made the list of the top ten dirtiest foods. I don't know about you, but I don't really have the luxury of eating scallions. As for cold cuts, what am I supposed to do? Soak it in water?

I know, I know. The Centers for Disease Control is trying to educate the pubic about food borne illnesses. But tell me something I already don't know, or better yet spend the money you're doling out on finding out what's dirtiest on changing the way manufacturers, restaurants, etc. handle food products. Now, there's an idea.

Sorry I'm drenching in sarcasm today.

Oops. I almost forgot to mention. Eggs. They ranked number five on the list. "Make sure you cook those too." ---brought to you by The CDC.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

I think I want a Cat.

Sitting on the porch, slowly sipping my morning coffee. Although "porch" is an overstatement. People like me don't have a porch. I live in a dingy apartment. I'll start this over.

Sitting in a faded, red chair in my dingy balcony, sippin' my coffee. Not slowly anymore. It's lukewarm now. More like gulping. It's a Saturday, and although it feels like morning to me, it's not. The clouds are blanketing the sky, the wind is howling and it's already noon. I'm quite proud of my mini-tomato garden. Although it's not much of a garden. I have a planter box. Still, I'm curious how "I" managed to grow these plump tomatoes. Is it possible that I'm ready to have a child? If I can nurture tomatoes, am I ready have a little Nineveh running around the place? As if. Growing tomatoes is hardly a litmus test for growing children. It is however a step in the right direction. I think.

Last night my boyfriend and I had dinner with another couple at some fancy schmancy place called "Pago" in Sugarhouse. Great food, although my boyfriend would argue that it was hardly great. I think it was just painful paying. Had it been the other way around, I'm sure the food would have been delicious! Don't worry darling, next one's on me. Wendy's it is. Anyway. We were having a discussion about cats. Owning a cat. He's been bugging me lately about adopting a kitten.

"I just don't know if I'm ready sweety. That's a lot of responsibility, and I can hardly feed myself let alone take care of another creature," I admit at the dinner table.

It didn't help sitting across from the couple with cats. My girlfriend is the borderline cat lady, although not anymore. She has a significant other. I have to think of a new nickname for her. Bless her heart. She only owns two cats. That hardly qualifies her to be a cat lady, but it was always fun giving her a hard time about her cats and the correlation it had to her singleness. Former singleness. I am. Sitting alone. I sure could use some company. I'm imagining myself, MAC laptop on my lap, writing, coffee cup on the dusty fold-out table, and a kitten nestled next to me . Purring. Prrrrr. Okay, now I'm seriously contemplating getting a cat.

"Babe! Let's get a cat!" I yell.

He laughs. Yeah, I know it's funny. I'll probably change my mind in twenty minutes.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

"Eye Candy"

"You're our eye candy." he said to me.

I won't say who, and I won't say when. That isn't important. What's important is the statement itself. I'm a woman who considers herself well-educated, independent and on most days, a professional. I'm not a feminist, but I also don't believe a woman's place has to be in the home. We now have the choice. It's also my prerogative to feel the way I do about the terminology "eye candy". What does it mean to you? I'm curious because I've been taught that, "the only message that matters is the message that's received." It wasn't received well, not on my end anyway.

Like the highly-sensitive woman that I am, I've given the term "eye candy" a lot of thought. I googled it, finding various definitions. I also googled images associated with the words "eye candy". Half naked women popped up on my screen. Enough said.

Either way, this definition quite possibly describes it best and underscores why it was so offensive to me. EYE CANDY: "Visual images that are pleasing to see but are intellectually undemanding."

INTELLECTUALLY UNDEMANDING? Intellectually undemanding? It carries a negative connotation. As if to say that women whom are considered "eye candy" are not intellectuals. And that couldn't further from the truth for most of us.

I asked both female and male co-workers about it. Perhaps to make me feel better about my discontent.

"Would you be offended if you were called eye candy?", I ask a female co-worker.

It's rude she replies, "I'd be offended."

But then I turn to a male co-worker who explains to me that "Men are hard wired to be visual animals." I think he used the word PIG in that sentence as well.

"We're genetically designed to ogle, to stare and to say it." He goes on to explain, "It's not our fault."

I laughed out loud. "Don't worry" I assure him. "I won't use your name when quoting you in my blog."

He breathes a sigh of relief because he knows that his opinions are not the most popular statements. But at least he's honest, and providing a perspective that I may never understand. It did, however may me think about all the "things" we're offended by. Perhaps I'm getting worked up over nothing.

No, I decide. It was offensive. I'm not going to apologize for being myself. I'm standing up for my feelings, and all the women who've worked hard to be taken seriously in the corporate world.

There. I feel better now.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Me in Mexico

(no, that's not me in the picture but he does look like he's having fun, doesn't he?)

It was early Saturday morning. I woke up at 4:30 for the flight, with ease of course. Waking up "that early" is sleeping in for me. And as I opened my eyes, I realized that for the next 7 days of my life, I would feel normal again. Because waking up at 3 a.m. is not normal. But if being not normal means I get to live and breathe my passion, then so be it. For now anyway.

Passport? Check.
Flight information? Check.
Cell phone? Check.
Cash? Check.

I had a laundry list of items that needed to be checked off before leaving my cozy apartment. Finally, rest and relaxation. The hard work is starting to pay off I think to myself. It's been nearly five years, and saving the money for a vacation has not been easy. You've heard the term "starving artist". Although I never would have categorized myself as such, I didn't make a lot of dough out of college. My first job as a journalist? $19,000. You get the picture. Just don't let the number fool you into thinking it was a depressing time in my life. I made great friends, learned a lot about myself and this thing called "reporting".

That of course is another topic in blogs. This is about "Me in Mexico". Several more blogs will follow this one on my trip to Mexico, experiences and such. For now---Mexico. What comes to mind when you think of Mexico today? Swine flu maybe? The drug war? Kidnappings? "Mexico is a dangerous place!"---I quote several of the people closest to me, which made me realize at the time when I was contemplating on where to vacation, that people are fearful. Afraid they may catch the H1N1 virus, even though it had already made its way to the U.S. AFRAID that they may get kidnapped if they ventured away from their resorts. When I declared to the newsroom, "I'm going to Los Cabos, Mexico!" my co-workers snickered "Don't get kidnapped for ransom." Of course they were kidding, I thought to myself. But I could not ignore the stories I had heard and read about in the newspapers recently.

WAS IT SAFE FOR TOURISTS TO TRAVEL TO MEXICO? I was about to find out for myself.

"Airport Adventure"

It didn't take long (minutes after landing) for a local to approach us about attending a time-share presentation at one of the local resorts. If you've ever experienced it, you'll know they are persistent, rarely accepting no for an answer. I, however gladly obliged, recalling the time my family and I listened to a grueling sales pitch years ago. The payoff? FREE activities. I managed to negotiate a snorkeling trip, Sunset Cruise (dinner & drinks) and a Glass Bottom Boat tour. Plus, the 30 dollars we spent on the shuttle from the airport to OUR hotel. I spent much of Saturday in the pool, taking in the spectacular view of the deep blue ocean and stuffing my face with food. By bedtime, I contemplated whether or not meeting complete strangers for a "time-share presentation" at 8 o'clock the next morning was a good idea. All the news stories about drug cartels and kidnappings raced through my mind. Nah, I thought. But I woke up with apprehension, and as I walked out of my gated hotel to meet a taxi cab driver, waiting to take us to a resort selling time-shares I couldn't help but to question our safety. We were alone in the taxi, "Is anyone else coming?" I asked the driver in English. He shook his head no. I turned to my significant other, "What if we get kidnapped" I mouthed. He rolled his eyes and chuckled.

Clearly, we DID NOT get kidnapped. We did however, have to listen to a sales man named "Jeff" for three painful hours, trying desperately to convince us why we should invest $16,000 dollars in a one-week time share per year for the next 30 years of our lives. I downed two mimosas, and told the guy "Listen, I'm not signing anything."

p.s. Does anyone own a time-share? Thoughts!? On the surface, I think the whole thing is a scam. An attempt to rip tourists off...that could just be the journalist in me though.

In the end, we left with our three activities and a free bottle of tequila in tow (which by the way was crushed in our luggage on the way home to Salt Lake City. Now I'm stuck with a laundry basket full of clothes that stink like tequila.)

Anyway...Day One was an interesting adventure to say the least. It made me realize despite the very real danger of the drug war in Mexico, there is no reason for "tourists" to be scared of visiting the resorts.

That's my two cents.

Meanwhile...good reads.,0,584254.story

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Food Recall Crisis?

You like cookie dough? Yeah, I do too. What about peanuts? Ditto. Spinach & tomatoes? Everyone needs a good serving of veggies. Once a vegan turned vegetarian turned meat eater, I now enjoy the occasional steak too. I could use a daily dose of beef, but doctors don't recommend it.

Today's topic in blogs: PRODUCT RECALLS

This year alone---380,000 pounds of beef were RECALLED. That's a lot of hamburgers. The recall had me checking the dates on the prepackaged meat I recently bought from the grocery store. Then there was the peanut butter; specifically peanut products. I practically live off PB&J. It's the equivalent to recalling top ramen noodles. HOW DOES THAT HAPPEN? When I got word that Nestle Toll House cookie dough was recalled, I thought "okay, that's probably a good thing for my waistline." But in all seriousness, spinach, tomatoes, jalapenos (may be missing a few food products) have all been on the FDA's list of recalls. What's next?

E. Coli, Salmonella---it's spreading fear and has Americans analyzing what's on their plate. Is this safe to eat? If the FDA can't protect us, who can? The Obama administration has now created a food safety panel aimed at strengthening safety standards. The new rules apply to poultry, beef, eggs, leafy greens, tomatoes etc.

Sounds like the Food and Drug Administration is non-verbally fessing up to a break down in food safety. Part of the problem? There wasn't enough oversight to begin with. There are 150,000 food processing plants and warehouses that supply food to the country. President Barack Obama says the FDA doesn't have enough $$$ (money) or enough employees to inspect all the plants. Ugh. You mean all these years, there were thousands of plants & warehouses the FDA failed to inspect annually?

NEW RULES (in short)

1. Better tracking systems, designed to trace where a bacterial outbreak originates
2. Better communication
3. New standards for egg and poultry producers
4. An increase in meat inspections
5. Stricter standards for vegetable producers

Part of the plan includes hiring more employees to oversee food safety. I should mention that the FDA isn't the only agency that inspects foods. The Agriculture Department mostly inspects meat, poultry and some egg products. There are more than a dozen GOVERNMENT agencies that overlook the country's food safety system. What do you think of the U.S. food safety system? Do you think the new rules are just a way to create an illusion that the administration is taking action? Or is this a step in the right direction?

For a more detailed look at the FDA's new rules, check out:

Monday, June 29, 2009

How much is TOO MUCH?

Does the date August 16, 1977 ring a bell? Think. Now think really hard...

It may be a distant memory, tucked away on a shelf or in a closet somewhere at home, along with a collection of other memorabilia. Unless you're an Elivs Presley fan. He died many years ago, but his death is an example of how the mainstream media has evolved over the decades.

Read on...

Celebrity coverage. It's my topic in blogs today, only because a notable number of celebrities have died over the past week. The number is notable, however most of the coverage has been focused on the King of Pop. Michael Jackson's death has dominated the airwaves since his death last week. Since that day, entire newscasts have been dedicated to M.J. (to his life and legacy). He was an important man to pop culture. An icon. That, no one can deny. I'm just wondering if anything else is going on in the world right now? I wouldn't know. My fellow journalists have been drowning in what seems like endless interest in Jackson's death.

It did not surprise me however, to see the national news obsessively filling air time with anything Michael Jackson. It is what I expected. After years in the business, I have come to learn many things about what journalism is today. I learned about what it was in University.

What it was...and what it is. Don't think it'll ever go back to the way it was. That statement doesn't not reflect my feelings about what journalism is today. Just an observation.

August 16, 1977. If the date isn't etched in your memory, it may be because of the way it was covered by the media more than 30 years ago. When the King of Rock 'n'Roll passed away, it didn't make the lead on the the CBS Evening News, most likely because whoever was in charge of coverage at the time didn't deem it newsworthy. Not worthy, but NEWSworthy. The head of CBS News at that time was Richard Salant.

His explanation? "Our job is not to respond to public taste."

It begs the question, how much is TOO much when it comes to celebrity coverage?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Infidelity in the Public Eye

There's a laundry list of dirty politicians that have been caught with their pants down. Yes. The pun was intended. My topic in blogs today: high-profile public officials busted for cheating on their wives. The most notable and infamous affair that sparked a wave of coverage on infidelity in the public eye was former President Bill Clinton. Who could forget that scandal? Sure the rumor mill has always included past Presidents, and while their alleged cheating was quietly swept under a rug, Mr. Clinton's salacious affair ignited a flurry of interest into public officials' personal lives.

The latest to publicly admit and tearfully apologize to an affair is South Carolina's Governor Mark Sanford. The details surrounding his disappearance were downright bizarre and cause for speculation that Mr. Sandford wasn't telling "us" something. That something was a mistress.

The dirty laundry list of politicians includes (but is not limited to) past Presidential hopeful John Edwards. Who could forget his ailing wife by his side as he confessed his sins on national television? Then there was New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who couldn't keep it in his pants. He was nabbed for his involvement in a high-priced prostitution ring. In case you forgot, former NY Mayor Rudy Giuliani, current NY Gov. David Paterson, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich have also been in the spotlight for their affairs.

Unfaithful politicians publicly pay the price for their infidelity: humiliation, a damaged reputation, and in some cases the end of a political career. These men are not the first, and they certainly won't be the last to be dubbed "cheaters", all of their political achievements tainted and sometimes forgotten. Some say a politician who betrays his wife betrays the public's trust: do you agree? Is a dishonest husband also a dishonest politician, businessman, lawyer, or doctor?

I'm not going to analyze why politicians cheat. Over inflated egos? I don't think the answer is that simple. And since I'm not a psychologist, I won't attempt to dissect their behavior. All I want to know is: is it any of our business? Does the public have a right to know? And since I'm a journalist, I can only ask the questions...not answer them.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


I work for the news. I'm a reporter. But I'm not a gatekeeper. My professor Dr. Terrell (great man) once told me that. "You are not the gatekeeper, and you will quickly discover that when you get a job in television news." What is a gatekeeper I asked myself. I didn't know what he was talking about at the time, dismissing his knowledge as a former journalist who had turned bitter about the business. Now I realize he isn't bitter. Not at all. Just a professor trying to do his job: educating the future journalists of America.

When I landed my first job in Yuma, Arizona I didn't think about gatekeepers (who are these people he's talking about!?) and the subject didn't enter my consciousness until more than a year into my job when I was covering the border beat. Yuma is positioned right along the border with Mexico. That means a lot of drug smuggling and illegal immigration. The obvious stories, right? Another obvious story was when several Senators stopped by to take a tour along the Arizona/Mexico border. This was at a time when the National Guard was literally building a wall along the border.

So it was yet another trip from elected officials. They wanted to see the progress the National Guard had been making. They were also there with U.S. Border Patrol Agents, talking to them about their progress as well. Great, I thought. A pretty PR story for the U.S. Border Patrol. The agency, you may agree serves an important role in our country. Nobody will deny that. Some however, will argue that the agency is flawed.

The border patrol visit was at a time when border violence was increasing, and I got the sense as many of these stories as I was covering that this would be the same as the rest. SAMPLE SCRIPT: "SENATORS VISIT THE BORDER AND SAY THE BORDER PATROL IS DOING A GREAT JOB." That was the obvious, until we approached a section of the border that was borderless. No fencing, no barbed wire. Something the Yuma Minuteman thought was unfathomable. To balance the story (and I'm sure I'm not the first reporter to do it), I did a walk and talk about the porous border. It was unsecured, and I showcased just how easy it was to cross from Mexico and into the U.S. Three steps. That's all it took. This was post 9/11. Unsecured borders? Didn't this pose a significant terrorist threat? The U.S. Border Patrol and Senators had already left by this time. Their tour lasted ten minutes (and yes I put that in my story too). Why? Because it was clear that they were there to show the American people that Congress was taking action. I couldn't keep track of how many of these stories I was turning.

My approach for this story was making sure everyone at home saw the big picture. Yes, the B.P. is patrolling and yes, the N.G. is building a wall but was enough being done?

I should note, I was a young, newbie in the business and it was my first lesson about gatekeepers. The story aired that evening on the 10 o'clock news which I anchored at the time. The next day I came in, and my managing editor yelled at me as soon as I walked in the door, "how could you do that stand-up!? The Border Patrol is threatening to arrest you for crossing the border illegally." Is that a JOKE I asked. Arrest me for taking three steps!? Wow, I thought to myself. Is this because I broke a law (which I was innocenetly unaware of, and still to this day doubt I did anything terribly unlawful seeing that we were authorized to be in the area) or was it because it didn't make the U.S. Border Patrol look "good" as an agency? I told my managing editor to tell them to come and arrest me. Don't threaten me, do it. Clearly it was a scare tactic. They were not happy, and managers agreed that I should lay off my border reports for a few weeks. I was outraged. They assured me it was just for a couple weeks. I reluctantly agreed. Weeks went by and when the opportunity came up to do another story with the B.P., I volunteered. The B.P. was releasing its monthly numbers; a statistical view of how well they were doing. I asked if it was just another photo op. for them as an agency among other important questions. Seemed fair to me. My job is protected by the U.S. Constitution. I can ask WHATEVER QUESTION I WANT. That's what I thought anyway. I reported the story, along with the numbers. There was nothing controversial about it but the next day the axe fell on me again. Not because of what aired, but because of what I asked at the press conference. My News Director at the time told me the higher ups at the Yuma Sector of the B.P. clearly weren't thrilled that I was there to cover the story. They called to complain yet again.

Sadly, it was the last border story I covered. I had reported dozens over the years in Arizona. Most were about drug smuggling, illegal immigration and ride alongs showcasing what border agents do when they patrol the border. Other stories focused on the illegals that crossed and why they came.

Years later, I still look back and it's mind boggling that I was pulled from covering the border beat. I now realize that it's the lesson Dr. Terrell taught me in college. Gatekeepers. The world is full of them. Just didn't know they existed in journalism.

P.S. If there's any doubt that terrorists could use ports of entry and our porous borders to infiltrate, take a look at this link:

It's a recent risk analysis report from Standford University that outlines the dangers of current border conditions. If you don't want to read through it, its conclusion is that the statistical data shows the odds of a terrorist entering the U.S. through our borders are rather high.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Orange Sticks & Soy Milk

It's Tuesday afternoon. I'm sitting on the couch, eating orange sticks and washing them down with soy milk. Nothing is better than enjoying Oprah and satisfying my sweet tooth, although I'll regret it hours from now when I'm on the treadmill. Sometimes I think having the desire to be thin is overrated. Key word is sometimes. Most of the time, I fantasize about nothing more than having a taught belly. Anyway, Dr. Oz is on Oprah talking about poop. He says everyone looks at their feces whether they want to admit it or not. Okay, all of sudden my chocolate filled orange sticks don't look or taste so appealing anymore.

Anyway, the real reason I'm blogging? I'm wondering what's more important to people.
1. Talk about the U.S. recession and it's significant impact on two benefits programs (Medicare & Social Security)
2. The "Jon & Kate Plus Eight" scandalous alleged affair

Is it one or the other? Do people have to choose? Or is there room for both in the world of television news? My only fear in today's world is that people are more focused on gossip, rumor and speculation than on real issues. And perhaps that's because we want to escape. Escapism vs. Reality. Who would pick the latter, when the first choice provides a world focused on issues other than their own?

Okay, no longer watching Oprah. And no longer analyzing this topic. Just wanted to share a thought that will seem minor when I blog tomorrow.
----I was just temporarily interrupted by a news promo. MISS CALIFORNIA embroiled in scandal. Should she lose her crown? (put hand over your mouth and gasp in shock)
Since I'm all over the place today, I wonder what the future of the GOP will be in this country...hmmm.

And with that I say GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mainstream Media

I had an interesting conversation with 20/30 somethings this weekend. I was invited to a BBQ in Sugarhouse. Didn't know anyone except for the friend that invited me, whom I only met once before. So as you can guess, I didn't know what to expect. Sometimes it turns out to be the most fun you've had in a while.

It was a small barbeque. By the time I got there, there was only one hamburger pattie left...stale, cold and lifeless on the plate. It looked so lonely, but I wasn't about to eat it. One of my friend's roomates was kind enough to throw a fresh pattie on the grill. In the meantime, I poured myself a drink. Bacardi and Coke. Not my usual drink of choice, but it did the deed. I sat on the couch next to a couple...everyone else was seated in wooden chairs scattered through the room. It was an interesting mix of people, one in particular who had lived in Atlanta. He was talking about the SWINE FLU. Yes, you know...the virus that nearly scared the pants off everyone. He loudly voiced his opinion: "The MEDIA just decided to freak everyone out." I can't quote everything he said, not word for word anyway but there was a lot of finger pointing. The media was responsible for spreading fear. I chimed in after he said the media blew up the story for ratings purposes...that people were sick of talking about the economy, so the news decided to give Americans something else to worry about. So I asked him, "you think the media tries to spread fear and panic on purpose?" In short, most likely he said. He did an internship at CNN in Atlanta and knows it for a fact. It was his perspective. And I'll be the last person to defend some of our actions as an industry, but journalists don't sit around in meetings discussing what stories we should cover to instill fear. I said journalists. I can't speak for anyone else that works in news. ie: producers, managers, corporate bosses etc. Anyway, what mattered most about the conversation was realizing what my generation thinks about mainstream media. He wasn't the first to display such distrust. And while I haven't conducted a scientific poll on how many people part of generation x, y (is there a z yet?) think of television news, I feel comfortable enough to say that we don't tickle their taste budds anymore. I wasn't part of news 30 years ago, so I have not witnessed the change (although some would arguably call it the downfall) in journalism. What I'm wondering is what is it that this new generation expects from us as journalists? Is it what Edward R. Murrow envisioned? Separating facts from sensationalism? T.V. news does what it does today because it works, because just like any other industry it has become a corporation that is profitable thanks to advertisers and while advertising should not be part of journalism's equation...this BBQ guy thought it is evident that it is. Undeniable he said. Hmmmm...perhaps he's right, but not on my clock.

After a ten minute, slightly heated but healthy discussion about mainstream media...I left. No one at the party watches the news. Someone asked, "are you a reporter or something?" I didn't answer. That didn't matter; what mattered was leaving with what I suspected all along. People have lost faith in us. What I want to know is what can we do to restore that faith? AND, most importantly is it worth it? Or will we be drowned out by the head honchos? Anyway, just a thoughtful blog. Take it with a grain of salt. My opinion of my job as a journalist changes on a daily basis.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Kiplyn Davis: where is she?

I think this is one of those stories that should be featured nationally, either on dateline or 60 minutes. It's that mind boggling. A 15 year-old disappears without a trace...literally. Kiplyn Davis was last seen in 1995. Her family believes she was murdered. So did the state, so they decided to try to prosecute two men, Christopher Neal Jeppson and Timmy Brent Olsen who they said admitted to friends at a party that they did it. The defense said not the case; they were joking and intoxicated at the time. They were indicted federally for lying to investigators in 2005. Years later in 2007, the state went after the two for murder charges. How do you prosecute someone without Corpus Delicti? That's what everyone wondered. Prosecutors knew they had a tough case. The defense demanded the murder charges be dropped even though a trial date had already been set. The judge in the case asked the prosecution to find a case as unique as this one. Without a body, a crime scene, forensic evidence or murder can you prove a murder took place? The family of Kiplyn certainly deserves justice, but putting two potentially innocent men behind bars would be an injustice. So many rumors have been swirling over the years. Some think these guys did it. Some say based on the lack of evidence, no way.

Well, yesterday a plea deal was reached for Christopher Neal Jeppson. Clearly the prosecution knew they had no case. Jeppson pleaded no contest to obstruction of justice and was sentenced 0 to 5 years in prison. He's already serving a five year sentence federally. The two sentences will be served at the same time. The plea deal means Jeppson can never be charged in connection with this case EVER AGAIN. Kiplyn's family is devestated. All they want to know is: "What happened to my daughter and where is she?" They said they wouldn't rest, even if it took forever. Now they're realizing they have to move on, find closure.

The question now is: what happens with Timmy Brent Olsen? He's been charged with murder, but his defense has appealed and his case is now pending. Will prosecutors offer him the same plea deal?

These men say they are innocenet, had nothing to do with her disappearance. That aside, think about the family's realization: they may NEVER know what happened to their daughter. It'll always be speculative.

Someone out there knows something...