Thursday, July 31, 2008

On Professional Decorum and Obama's Visit with Unity Journalists in Chicago

CHICAGO - When presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama visited the Unity Journalists of Color convention Sunday, July 27, there was a question about the professional decorum of the more than 2,500 journalists and associates present. Journalists, as a rule, should maintain their decorum and maintain a perception of balance and no favoritism. Alas, the Obama mystique and charisma overwhelmed many of the journalists present. When Obama walked up to the stage, the audience jumped to its feet, cheered and whistled and applauded loudly. There was a definite Obama bias in the air as the cheers and applause grew louder. I have to admit, I was among those who stood and applauded, but it was polite applause. Others cheered loudly, as if at a rock concert. The Obama presentation was televised live by CNN in the Chicago area and also picked up by many news networks. One of the live TV shots showed one of the audience members clearly wearing an Obama T-shirt. For the veteran journalists present that morning, that could have been the low-point of the Obama visit with minority journalists. Ouch! Jouralists don't do that. We don't publicly cheer for politicians or root for our favorite sports team when we are on assignment or at a convention. As the Obama interview continued, his remarks drew repeated applause and cheers. Again, this is wrong. Now, polite applause is warranted at the start and at the end of the speech or interview, but to openly display more than a cordial greeting in a situation like this is just wrong. Journalists don't do that. Period. Speaking of Obama and journalists, this display in Chicago only fuels the sentiment that's already out there about liberal bias in news media. The
perception is that these journalists will tilt their coverage in favor of Democrats or minorities. What do you think?

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