I hope your weekend is going well.
An interesting situation has gained my attention. One that I can only assume is important to all writers and journalists. We both know writers and journalists do what they do because it is a part of their DNA. Many of us have almost an addiction. Whatever the word might be at any given moment, must be told. Often the pay is poor and storytellers have bills like everyone else. Subscriptions are helpful, but it’s the advertisers that really pay the bills.
Historically, the system has been a winner; a writer, journalist, or newscaster gains an audience and advertisers take advantage of the exposure to educate consumers about their goods or services. Neither the advertiser or the media ever wanted to endorse the other.
Recently, an alarming predicament assures everything will change. In the future, assuming no one takes a hard stand, advertisers will need to either censor the media where their ads appear or completely decline key spots, a decision that will be based on the political and social comfort zones of a few.
It all started a couple of months ago, when Fox News Channel’s, Bill O’Reilly was exposed to the world as a misogynist with a history of sexually inappropriate episodes. The incidents reportedly were handled outside of court with the alleged victims receiving healthy pay-offs by O’Reilly and his employer Fox News Channel. The matters supposedly happened over a period of about a decade.
After a rather lengthy passing of time, The New York Times reported about the occurrences. Basically, at the very least, Bill O’Reilly was perceived as a lewd talking jerk who had paid hush money to women he had verbally assaulted. The details no one really seems to understand. Simultaneously with The Times story, another woman comes forward. She claims, years before, after refusing O’Reilly’s request for sexual favors, she was denied a promotion and lost her job at the network. Although the statutes had expired, the woman came forward, but again, without a day in court.
Now, I wasn’t there and more than likely neither was anyone else, but Bill O’Reilly and his alleged victim. Without a doubt, only the persons’ present know what happened.
The O’Reilly Factor was the leader in opinion news for most of two decades. Throughout the past couple of years the show beat all other cable shows in its timeslot. Not surprising, advertisers flocked to gain a minute of show time in front of The Factor viewers. It was all good, financially, O’Reilly got rich, Fox News Channel and Newscorp got richer and advertisers sold more stuff. Then, on a dark day, on the heels of The New York Times article, a Twitter campaign began to shame advertisers into boycotting The O’Reilly Factor. Ultimately, Fox News Channel responded to the advertisers who were responding to the Twitter outcry, and Bill O’Reilly, at his show’s peak, got fired. Perhaps, he is a guilty jerk and should be fired. I don’t know.
My concern is in the precedence this circumstance sets. From now on, must an advertiser censor or at least endorse the authors article, news show, or movie? Will advertisers continue to be blackmailed by angry viewers or readers? In the future, will media executives be blackmailed by both advertisers, angry viewers or the competition? And ultimately, how much censorship will there be in an effort to avoid blackmail? Certainly, after a fair trial or company investigation, the guilty should be punished, but should the punishment be handed out on Twitter? As for the advertisers, they may have chosen to bend to the will of a few at the cost of many. It really doesn’t seem fair.
Connor it’s not hard to imagine this costing a lot of hardworking people and companies a lot of money.
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