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A Plea For Quality Journalism

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opednews.com Headlined to H2 12/7/09

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What direct impact have Tiger Woods's actions had on your life? The answer for the vast majority of us is - absolutely none! And given that the answer is none, the yardstick of whether an individual's private behavior is going to positively or negatively impact our own life, or society as a whole, should serve as a standard by which we measure the necessity of violating someone's inalienable right to privacy. Nowhere is it written that an individual's choice of profession, for certain as an athlete, deprives him of his constitutionally-protected rights.

More importantly, what is the true measure of a society that can show no worthwhile sincere interest in the physical well-being of a human being found lying in the street unconscious and bleeding? What is the true measure of a society that cannot empathize with the emotional pain a celebrity's mother, wife, child, and other family members are experiencing and ask themselves how would they feel if the indiscretions of someone they love were being feverishly regurgitated by their neighbors and co-workers, or a gossip-hungry media? The continued inability to place ourselves in the shoes of others is especially disturbing given the purported facts that led to the recent Steve McNair tragedy. Even if the mean-spirited innuendos and speculations regarding what exactly happened the night of Woods's car accident and his purported marital indiscretions are not far-fetched, is it the media's and society's intent to drive an emotionally distraught wife to fatally harming herself, her husband, and/or other members of her family?

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The incessant obsession with the private details of Woods's life is sorely reflective of what a malicious, callous, and envious society we have digressed into, that can only make our individual selves feel better by disparaging and tearing down others. The media's relentless focus on the private lives of celebrities is also indicative of the sad state of journalism, including the so-called proper media, and its insistence on appealing to the worst in people to improve viewership and readership, instead of deploying some respectable investigative skills and responsibly reporting on those social concerns which directly affect society as a whole.

Attempting to justify the media's repeated violations of privacy with the insistence that professional athletes are role models is also an extremely weak and self-serving retort. Athletes and other celebrities are not, and should not be, responsible for setting the proper example for your child. You, the parent, and the individuals that are actively involved in the day-to-day care of your child bear the foremost responsibility for setting a proper example for your child. Yet, far less scrutiny and press coverage is given to the parents, teachers, clergy, etc. who are daily abusing children entrusted to their care, despite the fact that child abuse has become a national epidemic.

As further food for thought, if an individual does not have the social accountability to stop buying Nike products because of the company's purported reliance upon child labor, as well as accusations of forced labor, then for certain nothing Woods is currently being maligned for is going to stop that person from buying Nike products. And truth be told, consuming products simply because a famous face is being paid to market the product is enormously naïve and imprudent.

Lastly, many of our own co-workers, as well as the executives responsible for the day-to-day operations of our employers, regularly commit the same indiscretions being attributed to Woods, as well as very harmful financial indiscretions. Yet, not only do we as employees never demand to be apprised of a co-worker's or executive's private indiscretions, but the potential financial ramifications of an executive's indiscretions is likely to have a far more significant impact on our individual lives than anything Woods has ever done.

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Perhaps the true hypocrisy of it all is that numerous members of the press who insists on inundating us with incessant gossip about the personal indiscretions of others are likely guilty of the very same indiscretions. What is the likelihood that members of the mass media, who largely shape our views regarding various issues, are themselves cheating on their spouses; verbally, emotionally, and physically abusing their family members; indulging in the use of illegal drugs; and/or not paying their taxes, as well as committing several other transgressions they relentlessly flog others for, while keeping the intimate details of their own lives secretly tucked away?

Indeed, let s/he without sin cast the first stone; and do unto others as you would have them do unto you, because with each and every violation of another individual's protected rights, we are eroding our own personal right to such protections.

Sophia Eralich
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