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Pat Brown

Post  Annabel on Sun 27 Nov - 6:45

http://patbrownprofiling.blogspot.com/2011/11/criminal-profiling-topic-of-day.html

Criminal Profiling Topic of the Day: Personal and Professional Responsibility - The Leveson Inquiry

For those who don't know, the Leveson Inquiry that has been going on in the UK is essentially a hearing about media intrusion into private lives and grievous media abuse by way of printing lies and outrageous stories without basis in fact.

I am not going to discuss any particular people who gave testimony at the Inquiry but I want to discuss where I feel both professional and personal responsibility has an impact on what ends up in the media and where those of us in the media need to point the finger - at others or ourselves - and under what circumstances.

First, I agree with much that was said about the media's need to act in a professional and legal manner. No story should take precedence over the physical safety of those the news reporters are attempting to write about (running them down with a car, crushing them against a wall, tripping them, etc.) as all of these actions are clearly physical assaults which are crimes.

Next, journalists are supposed to be writing news, not gossip, nor opinion. Therefore, they should have facts and legitimate sources to back up their stories. For example, some silly folks have been recently claiming on Twitter and Facebook that I am a drunk - I guess because I made a joke about how wine can't be sold before a certain time in the morning in Washington DC and a couple of times I made reference to having a wine with dinner. This is all quite ridiculous because anyone who spends time around me knows I rarely have more than a glass of wine or one beer a couple times a week, if that. I could count the times in my life on one hand when I have had more than two glasses of anything alcoholic in the same night.

But, suppose someone had caught a pic of me the day I got out of a car in front of CNN and sprawled into the road. I had stepped sideways and caught my tennis shoe on the edge, my ankle caved and I went down onto the pavement. Next we read in the press, "Profiler Pat Brown in Drunken Sprawl at CNN!" Okay, that really is libelous. It is NOT news because the reporter didn't actually bother to find out if I was drunk; he would have gotten a cool pic, linked it to Internet gossip, and published this bogus story. This is the kind of thing that has gotten out of hand in the tabloids and on Internet "news" sites (gather.com, examiner.com, etc) where there is no concern for actually reporting of facts and there is a dearth of editors and a lot of money to be made making up stuff and not worrying about its veracity.

There, however, is nothing wrong with printing that a professional person has a theory (as it is a fact that person has a theory) as long as it it made clear that this is what it is. A newspaper or news magazine is also supposed to be to a reasonable extent (although in reality this is often not true) impartial and merely reporting the news; the idea is there ought to be some even-handedness in reporting what is going on in the world or a particular story. The journalist is supposed to squelch his viewpoints and just reports the facts, ma'am. I do differentiate print news outlets and television news outlets which have clearly added a great deal of commentary to the news these days, and, as long as it is clearly commentary and is not mixed up with the actual facts of the news, I am okay with it.

So, I agree with many speaking at the Leveson Inquiry that the media is a bit out of control in its aggressiveness in getting a hot story or making one up that is simply not true.

But, there is another aspect to some of this: excessive whining by those who court the media or who seek fame and fortune and then don't like ALL of the results. Or for those who end up in the media due to behaviors that have landed them in hot water. Look, sometimes we make mistakes, do stupid stuff, even outrageous shit, or even do something that is right but risky and we get stuck with the unfortunate results of said behaviors. I think we can all relate to this in some form or another. We all likely have humiliated ourselves at some time in our lives or lost a friend or a job due to some remark or bad behavior; we have suffered the consequences of our actions, regardless of whether we knew what was coming or got blindsided. If we did something foolish, we have to live with it. If we did something courageous but got slammed for it, we have to still live with it. This is called "life."

When it comes to people stepping into the media spotlight..hullo....yes, you did know you were playing with fire. If you have become ridiculously famous or rich or you take major risks in life, you gotta deal with it. If you a a rich businessman in Mexico, Central or South America, you cannot be unaware that kidnapping of your children could happen to you. If you are an international reporter in a war zone, you can't say you thought getting your leg blown off by an IED was as an impossibility. Police officers know they may get shot, mountain climbers know they may fall, boxers know they may get brain damage. Choices comes with consequences.

Marilyn Monroe or J.K. Rowling were once unknowns and walked the streets without anyone paying them a bit of attention. Then they became rich and famous and they both had the media and fans bugging the hell out of them. Yes, that is what comes with the territory and it is bit annoying to hear the whining about "I have no private life," and "News people follow me around." No shit, Sherlock. Lucky for you, you can buy a billion dollar house with massive walls and security and you can ride in a limo with bodyguards and you can afford to fly to some isolated tropical paradise for your vacation.

I am no where in the league of Monroe or Rowling with fame and fortune, but I have to deal with the downside of being on television, being an author, and being vocal about issues I believe need to be addressed, sometimes the less popular side of the debate. I get hate email, I have libelous garbage and vicious rumors spread about me on the Internet, I have pages dedicated to trashing my work and my reputation, and I have unflattering pictures that show up (some taken by people I have met at a public function, some from bad days on television, and some that have been Photoshopped). I have had the media report things incorrectly, repeat libelous stuff, and write less than flattering stories about me. These things are not exactly pleasant, but if you step into this kitchen you better learn to take the heat and find ways to minimize its negative effects. Some celebrities have assistants that only pass on fan mail and block everything else. Some celebrities have entourages to cheer them on and tell them how wonderful they are day and night. Some celebrities go to therapists.

I have found my own ways to deal with negative assaults on me. I have a "Hate Mail" file in my Outlook box. As soon as I see nastiness seeping out of the words in front of me, I say, "Bye!" and toss it into the hate file. I block stalkers and harassers from my site on Facebook and Twitter (no, this is not curtailing your Freedom of Speech). Mostly, I keep a sense of humor and humility about negative opinions of me: some actually have a bit of validity( I am not a perfect person and sometimes I think, well, yeah, he is kind of right about that...) and others just are so ridiculous, you really can laugh about what they say. So far I have been called a drunk, a liar, a fraud, a narcissist, a psychopath, a media whore, a moneygrubber, a sadist, a neglectful mother, an abusive mother, a vicious fishwife, a menopausal psychotic, a stalker, a fugly bitch...am I forgetting something? (Don't worry, someone will show up in the comments and fill in the blanks). Luckily, after a while, you kind of get used to it, especially in the days of Internet communications where it is essentially the Wild Wild West again with everyone and his brother taking potshots at you..

I also have to be careful of what I do. I surely will not be on a nude beach anytime soon or that pic will show up on Facebook within minutes (being my age, quite frankly, I am not too happy about ANY photo showing up of me in a bathing suit). I have to be careful in any public location and in any relationship. God knows, with cell phone cameras, you better know who you are alone with or you are going to end up on YouTube in a sex video. When you come right down to it, you DO lose your private life when you become a public figure and you have to work overtime to protect those private moments by going to very well controlled private situations (your own home, a trusted friend's home, etc) or a far off place where no one has a clue who you are or you have to go in disguise. Not always an easy life, but if one wants out of the limelight, one can get out of the limelight.

Another important thing for people at this Leveson Inquiry to recognize (as well as all others who are getting media attention) is that the people matter the most don't pay that much mind to the media garbage out there. My family and friends know exactly who I am, as do the people I work with; my interactions with them are the same as they have always been because when we are together, we have our same personal and professional relationship which depends on just me and them and not on all the stories that run rampant out in the papers and on websites.

So, does the media need to get its act together? I say, "Yes," as far as properly reporting the news and not crossing the line of libel and physical assault. But, media personalities also need to get their acts together and acknowledge their own responsibility for the life they have chosen, accept the pros and cons of that lifestyle and stop blaming everyone else for the downside of fame and fortune. If it really is too much, give away all your money and go live in Bangladesh.

By the way, ask most people who receive a lot of media attention if they would rather give up their high profile life and I doubt you will find many who would wnt to.. There are definitely negatives that come with media visibility but I can tell you that the opportunities that come with that visibility are most often worth the downside of fame - and I am not talking about money, but the ability to do things that would never have been possible without that media boost - increased communications, achieving goals in one's field that would be impossible without a high profile, having an impact on important issues - so many advantages come from the limelight, that those who are lucky to be the rare ones to get any amount of it should refrain from complaining about being famous. They should thank their lucky stars.

Annabel
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