By Vernon A. Williams, Gary Crusader
I was already in a funk over the abysmal state of the journalism profession and had every intention of writing this week’s column on the subject.
I planned to write about how cable channel news is obsessed with politics and how the campaign of ideology now extends through the campaign and the terms of office holders with no peace, no grace period, no conciliation, and no collaboration.
Despite poor judgment by the Democratic presidential candidate, a divisive third-party nominee, dismal turnout by Black voters, and hypocritical loyalty to a misogynist by white women, Hispanics who voted against their welfare, and an FBI director who became an impediment at the peak of the election – the media is mostly to blame.
With 17 experienced, if not stellar Republican candidates, CNN, MSNBC and especially FOX, decided a reality TV actor would be the only star of this show. Billions of dollars in free publicity was his reward – once they learned his overexposure resulted in a huge spike in ratings and revenue. So-called journalists sold out.
Interviews with their man were fluff, lies went unchecked, opposing viewpoints were dimmed, around-the-clock access – even out of studio by phone – was commonplace, and his ridiculous rallies were covered from wire to wire. It was the most shameful abdication of principles in the history of the news profession.
There are a few left who consistently demonstrate professionalism, fairness, openness and integrity. But they are too few. This was initially the sole focus of this week’s column until I received the heartbreaking news that veteran Gary Crusader reporter and photographer Carmen M. Woodson-Wray passed away.
That forced my mind to not only focusing on the foibles of inept, incompetent journalists today to reminiscing the level of commitment of reporters back in the day.
Grieving the loss, my mind hopelessly drifted to our Wednesday nights at Gary Info Newspaper on 19th and Broadway; where I would join the rest of the team every week to share in the process of putting together another issue of one of Gary’s two Black weekly newspapers.
Carmen was the unassuming but steady centerpiece, the straw that stirred the drink. She did more news stories and took more photos than anyone on the staff. She was dedicated, thorough, and passionate. She was everything today’s journalists are not.
Now, Carmen transitions to Gary “Newsroom Invisible” joining such stalwarts as “The Patriarch” J.T. Harris, All-Everything Jesse Harris, the brilliant Ernie Weston, irrepressible photographer Conrad Strader, along with incredible columnists Al Boswell, Joe Holly, Chuck Deggans, Lanel Chambers and Charlena Taylor.
We didn’t always get it right. But we tried. I miss journalists excited about getting a scoop or a prized interview. I miss folk working long and hard on an investigative project to expose some enemy of the public good. I miss the staffs of the Gary Crusader and Gary Info coming together, far more friends than rivals throughout the years.
And Gary will miss Carmen M. Woodson-Wray. She is a reminder of a better time in media.
CIRCLE CITY CONNECTION by Vernon A. Williams is a series of essays on myriad topics that include social issues, human interest, entertainment and profiles of difference-makers who are forging change in a constantly evolving society. Williams is a 40-year veteran journalist based in Indianapolis, IN – commonly referred to as The Circle City. Send comments or questions to: [email protected].