Skip to comments.Katie Couric, Meet Becky Johnson
Posted on 03/31/2007 9:06:22 AM PDT by Congressman Billybob
Who are these people? Katie Couric used to be on the Today Show, then she fell off the map. Youve never heard of Becky Johnson? Allow me to help.
Becky Johnson is a Staff Reporter for the Smoky Mountain News. I know both Becky and her editor, Scott McLeod, and respect their work. If youre not familiar with the SMN, it covers Haywood, Jackson, Macon and Swain Counties in western North Carolina. Becky could teach Katie a thing or two about reporting. Case in point:
Becky wrote a story in the February 21 issue of SMN, which is a near perfect example of the craft of reporting. It paints a picture. It tells a story. But most of all, it presents facts from which an astute reader can draw some interesting conclusions. Most of all, Becky does not preach to the reader. She doesnt present a pre-chewed conclusion which the reader/listener is expected to accept.
Are you listening, Katie? Reporting is about facts. Editorials are about opinions.
Beckys lede on her article has the flavor of an OHenry short story. When Commissioner Glenn Jones pulled into the Stillhouse Branch trailer park in one of the poorest neighborhoods of Swain County last October, hed strayed far from the campaign path of most candidates.
As the article recounts, Jones won his reelection bid by just 200 votes. He obtained at least 130 absentee votes in these trailer parks, etc., where he was helpful to the residents in filling out their ballots. But was there any illegality in the efforts of Jones and his friends?
Katie Couric, reporting on Bush administration officials, uses language to make clear her belief (and that of her network) that they have violated the law, in the scandal du jour. Becky Johnson, on the other hand, raises the question whether laws might have been violated, and then gets and reports actual facts, from which readers can reach conclusions.
Are we moving to swiftly for you, Katie?
Becky writes, One discrepancy that emerged ... involved the signatures of witnesses on absentee ballots. Every voter must have two witnesses sign their absentee ballot envelope, verifying its legitimacy. The candidate cannot sign as a witness. According to residents interviewed, the candidate came by with just Willard Smith in tow, Willard being an 82-year-old kingpin of the Democratic Party. Smiths wife Genevieve, signed as a witness, but she wasnt there.
Another witness whose signature appeared was George Arvey, a resident of a targeted apartment complex. Some voters whose absentee ballot were witnessed by Arvey say he was never there. Two other types of potentially illegal activity are factually presented in the article.
It seems to me that CBS is belatedly reaching the same conclusion about Katie Couric and the Evening News, that Coca-Cola reached about New Coke long ago, and Ford reached about the Edsel, even longer. New Coke was abandoned for Classic Coke. The Edsel was just plain abandoned.
There are only two options for CBS. Abandon Katie Couric. Or, teach Katie how to report competently. If they choose the latter route, they should start by having her read Becky Johnsons story about Commissioner Jones election tactics..
If Katie does learn to be a real reporter and hangs onto her job, Id say she owes Becky a bonus. A years pay for Becky, which would be a few hours pay for Katie, sounds about right.
To read Beckys fine story, go to www.SmokyMountainNews.com Click on Search Archives on the lower left. Then, at the top choose 2007 and then February. Its the first article on 2/21/07, Election Controversy Plagues Swain. Anyone, not just Katie, can get from this a primer on how to report a story with style, accuracy, and competence.
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About the Author: John Armor practiced in the US Supreme Court for 33 years. John_Armor@aya.yale.edu He lives in the 11th District of North Carolina.
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John / Billybob
I think Couric's problem is that she spent years cultivating an image as a lightweight and then wanted to suddenly be taken seriously as a hard news journalist.
Once people make up their mind about a person or a thing, it's difficult to get them to change their minds.
Never really thought of it that way... thanks!
What makes you think competent reporting is a goal of cBS... or any other DBM/DNC 'news' outlet?
Thank you, John, and yes, we budding scribes should seek out those who are competent at their craft. I look forward to reading Becky's work. And thank you Becky Johnson for performing your constitutional duty.
INteresting. When I have picked up the SMN in Franklin, I generally find it to be VERY liberal in its general 'coverage' and certainly in its editorials.
Unfortunately, so much of the footage was found to contain images such as the still seen here that it was rendered unusable and the project had to be s**tcanned.
Katie told interviewers later that this is how she spends much of her free time as this is where she gets some of her best program ideas. She cited her interview with Hillary Clinton as a prime example.
In fact, I think she went beyond mere good reporting, and approached the category of excellent writing in any medium. That's why I compared her lede to an O'Henry short story.
John / Billybob
Obviously, she doesn't work for the McClatchy rag, The Charlotte Observer, but strangely enough for Creative Loafing (go figure). She gets into the nitty-gritty of local politics and is fearless in exposing the chicanery of politicos of whatever stripe. I can't compare her to O'Henry but she is what the press should be, especially in the gadfly role.
It's indeed a shame when lightweights such as Couric have the national stage compared to real talents like Becky Johnson or Tara Servatius.
Here is a link to some of Tara's articles: http://charlotte.creativeloafing.com/gyrobase/Results?author=oid%3A62
Becky Johnson is a reporter. She doesn't have any "constitutional duty." What she has in the First Amendment is merely a charter of freedom, not a responsibility.
Reporters have "the right to tell the truth." And I have a right to be a financier and investor. I have the right to own the Brooklyn Bridge. Since the fact that reporters have a right to tell the truth proves that in fact they do tell the truth, you should buy my right to the Brooklyn Bridge. I'll sell it cheap.
True, no one is forcing people to be reporters just as they aren't forcing people into high finance. Nevertheless, there is a reasonable expectation that people who choose to be reporters will use their freedom to do good, not to do bad. I think it is worth applauding when a reporter does good. It doesn't happen often enough.
Agreed. But my point was that the assumption that reporters do good - that journalism is objective - is a prejudice. It is "a vagrant opinion with no visible means of support."I think it is worth applauding when a reporter does good. It doesn't happen often enough.
I go so far as to say that the claim of journalistic objectivity is a form of censorship. If faced with an open-and-shut case of politically tendentious journalism - such as the 2004 60 Minutes hit piece on President Bush's TANG service record - all journalists self-censor. None of them durst say the obvious truths that
The refusal of any organ of Big Journalism to point out these facts and conclude that the "Killian memos" were fraudulent partisan hit by CBS News is a mark not of the "objectivity" but of the solidarity of Big Journalism.
- Mr. Bush was not running as a war hero but as a sitting president standing on his record (so the idea that his service record of thirty years ago was relevant was not "objectivity" but a John Kerry POV),
- The "Killian Memos" were not originals and therefore it is patently impossible to verify the authenticity of the putative "signatures" by the (conveniently) long-dead Col. Killian,
- No chain of custody links the "Killian memos" to the personal effects of Col. Killian. And the quality of the copies of the "Killian Memos" is quite poor - indicating that each was itself made from a copy and that that copy was also made from a copy of the putative original. The poor quality of these copies obscures the putative signatures, and that lowers the standard of proof of authenticity for the credulous, but it also flies in the face of the fact that if these memo existed at all they must have been closely held. Copies made of copies of copies would not exist.
- And finally, the fact that Microsoft Word, which was developed long after the putative dates of the "Killian memos," does a lot of easily observable things to facilitate and optimize the production of a memo. The conceit that the "Killian memos" were produced on some other device than Microsoft Word without producing any artifact in any of them which suggests that any of them were not produced by Microsoft Word operating in its default settings is a fantastic leap of faith.
That is where we "violently agree."
A very common assumption...very dangerous but very common.
The biggest smoking gun I've ever seen... and the fact that no prosecutor took it upon himself to delve further is mind-boggling.
I think you are partially right but that only applies mostly to liberals.
During the years she spent on the AM show, she showed her bias every time she interviewed someone. If the person was a liberal she was all smiles and nicey nice, if the person was a conservative her whole demeanor changed. Her expression was hard, she never smiled, her voice was lower and serious. She showed an obvious dislike to conservatives so none of those people are going to watch her on the evening news because we already know her style.
I want to relate a story about Couric. Four friends of mine (women) went to NYC together and one of the planned stops was to see Katie at the network because they all watched her every morning. They were not particularly political and thought of her as someone cute who lived next door. They loved her hair and her clothes and thought she was the cutest thing ever on TV. When she finally showed up for the arranged meeting she was so rude and sharp that they all left almost in tears. Perky katie is a b*tch! LOL!
You know, I would be happy if they would just try to be good reporters and stop trying to "do good". I think they should just try to keep to the "who, what, when, where and how" and be done with it. It is possible to do that and sound important I believe.
The refusal of any organ of Big Journalism to point out these facts and conclude that the "Killian memos" were fraudulent partisan hit by CBS News is a mark not of the "objectivity" but of the solidarity of Big Journalism.The biggest smoking gun I've ever seen... and the fact that no prosecutor took it upon himself to delve further is mind-boggling.
There is no occasion for a prosecutor to involve himself. After all, the First Amendment does not say that the press has to be objective or fair - it says that the government cannot impose its version of "fairness" on the press.
That doesn't apply to the licensees of the FCC - but then, the FCC is (theoretically) in charge of requiring its licensees to be objective. Which is why it is my opinion that the FCC and its licensees should have their socks sued off in civil court. IMHO that is the only conceivable remedy - and given that all but one justice of SCOTUS listens to broadcast journalism, it is a slender reed to have to rely on.
In suing broadcast journalism, you would have to request as part of the remedy specific protections against broadcast criticism of SCOTUS in order to give the members of the court the freedom to judge without fear or favor. That is not dangerous because it would not reach the press - printed journalism and printed books and, I would certainly argue, the Internet and FreeRepublic.
The Internet differs fundamentally from broadcasting in that the requirements for entry into blogging, FReeping, or podcasting are entirely negligible in comparison to the barriers to entry into broadcasting.
I believe Katie Couric peaked out on the NBC Today Show - her role there was her acme. She lacks intellect, honest inquiry without personal bias, and she just isn't curious enough to present the story right without a skew.
Is that journalism? No Way!
She is a personality - a lightweight personality.
I actually think that the "cardboard villian" is fixed. The "villain" is anyone who raises his profile by actually accomplishing something. Accomplishment threatens the primacy of the criticizing class - reporters most especially, Democrat politicians, unionists, plaintiff lawyers, and (all too often) teachers. People who actually accomplish things set themselves up for second guessing; it is always possible to see in retrospect "where," as Teddy Roosevelt put it, "the doer of deeds could have done them better."
So in that sense the "political decision" of who gets mercilessly criticized by journalism is not so much driven by the desire of the reporter for a particular outcome as by who makes the juciest target for being knocked down a peg or two. And that is always the businessman or the doctor - or the cop or the soldier. Hence, "objective" journalism and its running dog, "liberalism," attack those targets.
. . . but then, what else are journalists? Celebrities "don't exist" apart from PR, and neither do journalists. A journalist who breaks the cardinal rule of solidarity with the herd of "objective" journalists loses his standing in the guild and becomes "not objective, not a journalist."
Therefore journalists are creatures of PR, and the individual journalist is not powerful, the individual journalist is merely a celebrity. And I'm not merely speaking of anonymous journalists - I'm talking Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather when I say that.
Agreed. If there were however only intellectual journalists and diarists, the public would pay scant attention.
The lightweight celebrities in the media only feed the need - the great maw of gossip.
ROFL OH MONK and Dr Raoul LOL!
But note that that the fraudulent votes cast from the trailer park (bad/faked witness signatures from people bot witnessing!) were FOR a democrat. Implied of course, since the 82-year old who signed was a democrat, but not explicitly stated.
Now, where is the Justice Dept investigation of this?
Where is Gonzales when there IS a crime?
Katy Cholic is functioning just as See BS wants her to ... she’s an extension of the dnc propaganda machine. She need not be faithful to any norms or talent of a specific kind so long as she reads what they feed her and follows the talking points accurately.