Monday, August 30, 2010

Some Stories Shouldn't Be Told

Shame on the local television station that aired a report on the charitable effort by Catholic Social Services and the St. Vincent DePaul Kitchen in Wilkes-Barre to give underprivileged kids free backpacks and school supplies.

The station not only showed the faces of children and their parents, but interviewed one young lady who was left to explain that school supplies were expensive and her family could not afford them.

No doubt, CSS sent out a press release to let people know where they could get the free school supplies. That doesn't mean a news department should cover it in a way that could lead to embarrassment and humiliation for children.

Kids can be very cruel. Reporters shouldn't be.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Kaiden Abul-Ela

Meet Kaiden Abul-Ela. We've never met, but I've gotten to know him on the internet. I do know his great aunt who is a friend.

I bring him to your attention because I have followed this boy's fight against a rare form of brain cancer, Atypical Teratoid/Rhabdoid Tumor (AT/RT). He has endured surgery and treatment. He's a month shy of his second birthday.

Kaiden needs additional treatment. His parents are fighting to get that treatment. All of this comes to mind just a year after brain cancer claimed the life of Senator Ted Kennedy.

Fellow blogger and friend David Yonki, in his weekly feature "Write-On Wednesday" on the Lu-Lac Political Letter includes a Newsweek article penned by Kennedy after his diagnosis: "Last year, I was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. Surgeons at Duke University Medical Center removed part of the tumor, and I had proton-beam radiation at Massachusetts General Hospital. I've undergone many rounds of chemotherapy and continue to receive treatment. I have enjoyed the best medical care money (and a good insurance policy) can buy. But quality care shouldn't depend on your financial resources, or the type of job you have, or the medical condition you face. Every American should be able to get the same treatment that U.S. senators are entitled to."

Kaiden's parents are now seeking the same proton-beam radiation afforded Kennedy for their little boy. It offers the best hope for minimizing long term damage. Doctors at Children's Hospital of Boston have said, "No."

Still his parents fight. Still doctors say no.

And somewhere Ted Kennedy is spinning in his grave.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Stuck Between Iraq And A Hard Place

The last American combat troops have left Iraq. The United States went to war in Iraq following the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Ostensibly the mission was to seek out weapons of mass destruction.

Having found none, the US mission became an effort to bring a stable democracy to Iraq. Along the way Saddam Hussein was brought to justice for acts of genocide against his own people. He was tried, convicted based on the evidence, sentenced to death and executed.

A fair trial in Iraq was no small task. A fair trial is an American principle.

Now another of our principles is being put to the test; freedom of religion.

A controversial Imam is leading the effort to establish a community center and mosque in Lower Manhattan, just blocks from Ground Zero. New York City officials have cleared the way for construction.

Is it a good idea? I don't know.

From a public relations standpoint; bad idea.

From a freedom of religion standpoint; I think we may have to live with it.

Rabbi Burt Visotzky, Director of the Louis Finklestein Institute for Religious and Social Studies in New York wrote President Obama saying, "It is not sufficient to assert the right to build; only the free exercise of that right is a guarantee of religious freedom."

It is distasteful for the thousands who lost loved ones in the 9/11 attacks. I would like to see the mosque built somewhere else. Does that mean I'm a religious bigot? I hope not.

America; we're stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Bill Longworth

Bill Longworth and I worked together at WBRE-TV 28 from 1982-1986. He now hosts "Capitol Connection" a production of the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Caucus.

I've known Bill since 1973 when as weekend radio reporters we would trade stories. Bill worked at WEJL-AM in Scranton and I worked at WILK-AM in Wilkes-Barre.

He's a dear and cherished friend.

The thing I remember most about our television days was our inability to work together. That's right, we couldn't be in the same room. Not because we disliked each other or because we had major philosophical differences about our approach to news. We had a much larger problem. We made each other laugh.

Not a smile or a giggle.

Outrageous, knee-slapping laughter.

Wholly inappropriate laughter.

The kind of over-the-top, infectious, the more you tried to suppress, it only got worse laughter that used to get me sent to Sister Imelda's office on a regular basis.

This became particularly difficult when I would appear on set with Bill when he would fill in between the station's anchorman mistakes. It would start with a smile, then a laugh and end with panic. We got the lecture a couple of times.

But the funniest moments came off camera in the WBRE newsroom. We had a news director who really thought he was God's gift to television. Trust me, he wasn't. Bill and I "disliked" him.

Every now and then Bill and I would phone each other to complain about the boss. Mind you we would be talking on the phone when our desks were less than ten feet apart. The News Director suspected we were talking to each other. We would be laughing out loud, at the same time. He would then call one of us to his desk.

Now if we both hung up at the same time, he would know we were talking to each other. So Bill and I would take turns, NOT HANGING UP. That's right the conversation would continue with no one on the other end of the line. Most perplexing for the ND. To really sell it, we would stay on the phone, talking to no one, for several minutes at a time.

We've written some really good news stories in our time, but we were most creative when we were talking to nobody. And the longer we stayed on the phone, the more difficult it became for the one of us standing before the ND to keep from laughing.

The News Director never figured it out.

Just writing this makes me laugh out loud to the point of tears.

Gosh, I miss those days.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Statue of Limitations

The Harrisburg Patriot-News reports the sculpture called, "The Pennsylvania Worker," has been moved from the grounds of the Governor's Mansion to a remote spot outside the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry in Harrisburg.

It cost $135-thousand dollars back in 1992 when it was dedicated by Governor Robert P. Casey.

It cost $40-thousand to move.

From James Carville and Paul Begala's 2002 book, "Buck Up, Suck Up...and Come Back When You Foul Up:" "Outside the Governor's Mansion, Casey built a statue of a heroic, muscular workingman, in the style popular during the New Deal. Casey worked hard to raise the money to build it. "Because," he once told us, "I want every son of a bitch who ever lives in that house to walk out that door every morning and be reminded he works for the working people of Pennsylvania."

Move it back. Move it back now. Just move it back.