Thursday, September 3, 2015

Sticks and Stones

Shannon Owens

I doubt I will ever be a TV journalist. My skin is not thick enough. Or maybe I should say my skin is not clear enough? Or my hair isn’t the right color? I may look too chunky in the red dress I would choose to wear on air or I may flub my lines and it would end up going viral on Youtube

In the age of technology, television news personalities need to be “on” at all times. I hate to admit if I saw my local anchor be rude to the check-out girl in the grocery store, I may tweet about it. On the flip side, the people we watch every day are just that -- people. They make mistakes. They are someone’s son or daughter, maybe even someone’s dad or mom. They probably have student loans, too. They may enjoy gardening, baking cookies, or spending time binge watching a good Netflix series; just like the rest of us. The majority of people on our TV’s are normal people. It can't be easy to invade living rooms night after night delivering bad news. Once the lights are dim and camera is off, reporters check their email or Facebook account and receive unprovoked, unnecessary critiques on their appearance. 

Jennifer Livingston, 2012. Photo Credit:
 A few years ago, Jennifer Livingston, a morning show anchor from WKBT in Wisconsin, made headlines for standing up to a viewer’s bullying words.  Ms. Livingston was ridiculed by a viewer for her weight. She responded back with an editorial addressing the viewer’s comments. The editorial went viral around the country and Jennifer became an internet sensation. While watching her video I wanted to stand up and cheer. Good for her - she put her bully “on blast.” I’m sure delivering that editorial provided relief and (no pun intended) a weight was lifted off her shoulders. I think there is some sense of liberty with calling oneself out on our flaws. In my opinion, as unfortunate as it sounds, it feels like you have beat everyone else to the punch line. You can then laugh with your critics instead of having them laugh at you. It’s not right by any means, but it’s probably a defense mechanism I, myself, have used hundreds of times. Sure, in a perfect world we all would be fine with just who we are, but what would cosmologists, surgeons, or orthodontists do?

Do you think internet trolls would say the things they are brave enough to type to an anchor’s face? Would you walk up to Barbara Walters just to tell her her lipstick shade is unflattering? Or track Matt Lauer down to inform him that his haircut makes him look like an old man? Probably not. So --  why do we think it’s okay to tweet about others, make mean meme’s about others or send hateful emails to others? I think it may make trolls feel better about themselves in some sick way. Some people get a kick out of putting others down.

After watching the news tonight, I decided the world could use a little more positivity. I may even tweet the local meteorologist and tell her I liked her dress tonight. I am not saying that as a viewer, we don’t have rights to having our opinions heard. That’s not true. I’m sure any reputable news outlet would agree that there is always room for smart, healthy, respectable criticism or opinions. The constitution encourages that, but maybe Disney’s ‘Bambi’ movie was right after all; "If you can't say something nice... don't say nothing at all."

Photo Credit:


  1. Thank you for this post and the editorial by Ms. Livingston. Like you, I wanted to stand up and cheer for her. It even brought tears to my eyes. Growing up I was a victim of bullying for my physical appearance, my sister as well due to her weight, and I'm currently watching my brother suffer from the effects of it too from being a young gay male. I feel helpless because there are no words I can say to him that will make him forget all the hurtful and rude comments he has received over the years. As you pointed out, most people do not have the courage to say these comments in person. They are hiding behind a computer screen which gives them anonymity if they so choose. There needs to be more positive and uplifting messages/comments rather than shameful and hurtful ones. Bullying not only destroys lives but it can also end them. Anyone who cannot look past their bullies and be strong, decide to take their own lives because they can't handle the ridicule. This is the saddest thing imaginable, all because someone couldn't keep their comments to themselves. Your quote at the end was perfect, "if you can't say something nice... don't say it at all." Again, thank you!

  2. (reposting due to forgot email)

    Haters are going to hate. E! has a show called Fashion Police which spends 30 minutes commenting on stars attire and if they like it or not. I remember my local meteorologist came to church and was speaking about how he was kind of famous on the local level. He said because they were in people's living rooms every night and people felt like he was their friend. E! has their show Fashion Police, where they brutally make fun of the stars and their attire. And they make a lot of money!! Our old anchor retired a few years ago. I loved her. She was pretty, funny, spunky and dressed in the newest fashion. She was awesome. That being said, it was her appearance or her attire, she really was a great anchor. She had heart when she reported the news. And that's what makes a good reporter. I use to watch Anderson Cooper when he first started, would never miss him. Now, not so much as I think since he has reached new superstar status, that his reporting has taken a back seat. Too many people would rather throw and insult at someone versus a compliment. It is the sad reality of the society we live in. We need to make a difference and show society that good always outweighs bad.