Monthly Archives: March 2016

Decorum

There is an unwritten rule for those of us who go on television for a living. Not only is it not in any handbook but no boss in my thirty-plus years has ever mentioned it to me.
It may be unwritten, even unspoken but real all the same. It’s true in many companies but particularly on television.
It’s more of a bargain really, a deal that goes with the landscape of being on the public tip of the iceberg that floats the news of the day to viewers.
The deal is this: If you are going to represent the company to the public you must always display proper decorum to the public.
Most people who approach those they see on their televisions are polite and sincere, wanting to ask about an on-going issue or genuinely curious about the machinery that generates news each day.
But not everyone. Some are convinced that we are working from one bias or another and want to tell us about it in no uncertain terms. In my day many would approach me, perhaps even meaning well, to tell me that I don’t look nearly as heavy in person as I do on TV. Sigh.
Like everyone else, we have our good days and our bad, so trust me when there are times when I simply wanted to point north and say “Hey, the Lake is that way! Why don’t you go jump in it?”
But we don’t and it’s not because we’re afraid the person might call the boss to complain. We strive to maintain our civility because it’s part of the deal to understand that you represent something larger than yourself.
As a walking, talking symbol for your product and your brand there is a responsibility to present an image consistent with how you want your viewers to see your newscast.
Mistakes are made sometimes, sure, we’re all human but that’s the goal every time you interact publicly.
I’ve been thinking about that lately while watching the unfolding carnival that is this year’s presidential campaign, a place where insults have routinely replaced insight.
These aren’t people seeking to represent one company in one city; these people are asking to have the most powerful job in the world, to be the walking, talking symbol for the United States of America.
I’m sure there are many times during a grueling campaign when all of the candidates vent but it’s not just unbecoming to see it in public, it’s downright distressing.
If members of someone’s own party cause such unseemly public behavior, what does that forebode for a tough legislative fight on the Hill or negotiations with a foreign leader?
This is a process that will determine the next President of the United States. I just wish that more people would remember to act like it.