Archive for March, 2008

Always a Newsie

Thursday, March 27th, 2008 © by Susan Swartz

When people would ask “Are you STILL writing for the newspaper?” I’d feel like I had to come up with some explanation like, “Yessss…..Maybe I’m just not very imaginative.” After all, it is a mark of adventure and risk taking to bounce around, be flexible, try something new.

But why not stay with something you’ve loved since high school, majored in, in college and has been the only work you’ve ever been paid for except that summer in Cape Cod cleaning motels.

I’ve always been proud to say I write for a newspaper. People usually react. They know what reporters do and they have opinions. There were times when some considered it an-almost glamorous profession. But along the way writing for a newspaper got thrown into a greater slushpile of THE MEDIA. People talk about THE MEDIA and look at you like you are personally responsible for the paparazzi climbing all over Angelina and Brad and TV cameras staying too long on grieving war mothers.

It’s so hard to please the reading, viewing, listening public. But it’s sure fun to try.

Being a journalist gets you into peoples lives and homes that doesn’t happen in a lot of professions. Being a newspaper reporter allows you to know a little about a lot of subjects. It gives you maybe some fleeting celebrity, a little bit of status, although that’s declining too. People know that the news biz is struggling now and they all have an opinion on that, too.

But they care and they pay attention. Were a newspaper to close up shop I believe there would be far more people mourning it than celebrating. But maybe that’s because I believe most people recognize that they must know what’s happening in the world or downtown even if they don’t like it.

Newspapers also keep the written word alive. Even if it they appear on a website instead of a piece of newsprint, there will be words put together by people who know the craft. People who can spell and write full sentences.

I was never a fan of the politics of the late William S. Buckley but I sure admired the way he could wrap his words around his ideas. I gave a silent “good for you” when it was reported he died at his desk.

Daniel Schorr, the NPR sage, is 91 and continues to get multiple papers every day so he can add his perspective and analysis to the news. Helen Thomas continues as the queen of the White House press corps. I take heart that news people never fade away. They keep reporting and commentating and asking nosy questions.

I left my newspaper, the Santa Rosa (Ca.) Press Democrat because we have a decent union retirement and I want to do more things on my own time. You know. Like write opinions and interview people and tell stories. Same old. Same old. What else would I do?

Listen to the audio version of “Always A Newsie” on the podcast page under Another Voice.

The Wronged Woman

Friday, March 21st, 2008 © by Susan Swartz

The press has had its way with the Spitzer spectacle and now the unhappy couple belongs to the lawyers and late night comics, but I can’t let it disappear without a couple of comments.
While the latest scandal involving a thoughtless politico and wronged wife was unfolding I had a wretched cold that left me near voiceless, so all I could do was croak and wave my arms at the TV.

But, sure as there are big deal honchos who believe the fringe benefits of high office include sexual dabbling along with executive parking privileges there will be another powerful man saying to his wife, “Honey, we need to talk. And then will you put on a nice suit and hold my hand in front of the TV cameras?”

It didn’t take long. Within a couple of weeks Spitzer’s replacement, the new governor David Paterson admitted he too had committed adultery, but so had his wife. So I guess in their case it’s a draw.

But back to the shocked wife and contrite husband scene. Each time that happens you have to wonder. Would a powerful woman do this? And if the roles were reversed, would her man stand by her side?
I’ve long maintained that as adept as women are at multi-tasking, a woman governor, president or head of the school board wouldn’t naturally consider fitting into the agenda special time with her intern or the hunk who delivers bottled water. I think she’d probably use any extra time to go to the gym.
But if she did stray and was caught can you imagine the humiliated husband staring down at his shoes in front of a giddy press pack?

Dina McGreevey, who was married to the governor of New Jersey implicated in a gay affair, told NPR that even while she at first stood beside her man she really “wanted to punch him.”
Now, that would be a refreshing touch on the Nightly News. Or how about a separate press conference where the woman says she’s only going along with this humility for the sake of the kids but she really thinks he’s a louse.

Author Sue Miller writes about such a randy politician and his long suffering wife in her latest novel “The Senator’s Wife.” At a reading she talked about the legacy of famous men who fooled around but whose affairs were once done discreetly and the salacious details unknown until the men were out of office or dead. Mentioning John F. Kennedy, she said, “We couldn’t imagine that man’s appetites.”

Everyone laughed at that, even though we were mostly all women that night at the reading. It was like we accept that some men are just charming cads.
I thought about that in terms of all the jokes about the shamed Gov. Spitzer. Like he was really stupid to hire a prostitute and yet some commentators attached a stud-ly likeability to the guy. As for his wife, she got mostly pity.

In Sue Miller’s book when the senator’s wife finally gets sick of her husband’s affairs, she moves to Paris. At least she gets something out of the deal. Paris? Delivering a punch in the nose? Either one’s better than having to take it like one more mute and mortified wife.