What’s That Smell?
Last Friday, after watching the C-SPAN broadcasts of the speeches by Kerry and Bush to an audience of journalists at the UNITY Conference, I was so appalled at the behavior of the journalists that I wrote this entry: Journalism Isn’t Dead, It Just Smells Funny.
Today, Editor and Publisher reports that some journalists also noticed the odor: Partisan Cheers at Unity Upset Some Attendees. (Hat tip: Jewels.)
John Temple, editor of the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, praised the meeting overall and said he was “inspired” by it — but noted in a column that the partisanship (evidenced by “cheering and whistling” during Kerry’s speech) was “something I had never experienced in a crowd of journalists.”
Helen Ubinas, another attendee, wrote in The Hartford (Conn.) Courant that she was “in the minority, as it were” who acted like “a professional, not a partisan” in responding to Kerry. There was snickering during Bush’s address and the crowd rose at the end, “but not for much longer than it took to head to the door.” Ubinas’ explanation: Kerry connects with the “advocacy side” of Unity journalists. But showing preference for one candidate, she added, “is the ultimate betrayal — to everyone.”
Akilah Johnson, a reporter at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel in Delray Beach, Fla., told USA Today, “It was a little awkward for me. I guess a lot of people were acting like citizens, not reporters.” Unity President Ernest Sotomayer pointed out that many Unity members, including those who were covering the event or planned to report on it later, did not cheer. Those who did, he said, are “people who vote, and they have a right to express themselves” when they’re not working.
But Seattle Times reporter Florangelea Davila told her paper, “It was so offensive and awful, and I hated it. It was clearly inappropriate. It was ridiculous.” Houston Chronicle Suburban Editor Pete McConnell said he was “embarrassed” by the crowd reactions to Bush and Kerry: “As a group we should have kept ourselves in check.”
Bob Steele, ethics expert at the Poynter Institute, called public outbursts favoring one candidate “unprofessional and unethical.”