I think journalists should be in the field or behind the news desk, not on the red carpet. There, I said it. I do not understand the fascination with the White House Correspondent’s Dinner held in Washington every spring. If you are not familiar with this event, consider yourself among the millions who could care less, no, seriously it is a dinner/”open mic” night with tables full of politicans, news people and execs, and celebrities. A host, typically a comedian, roasts the President of the United States and everyone in the room. The unfortunate target this year was New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and his weight. Really? Predictable and offensive. Then, the President proceeds to tell jokes, clearly written for him, skewering all the big news outlets, CNN, FOX, MSNBC, et al. I have a sense of humor. I appreciate people, even the President, who don’t take themselves too seriously. But how has a dinner I assume originated as a way to bring journalists who report from the White House together so they can swap stories with politicos they cover to a Kardashian-filled, borderline offensive, news personality-as-celebrity ego stroke? Former NBC Nightly News anchor and one time White House correspondent himself Tom Brokaw said it best “What kind of image do we present to the rest of the country? Are we doing their business, or are we just a group of narcissists who are mostly interested in elevating our own profiles?” Maybe it’s time to scale this one back to a non-televised small dinner that leaves Lindsay Lohan off the guest list. Network news people should not be elevated to movie stardom. They are recognizable, they are often attractive and charismatic, they are paid well. But they are charged with covering the very people sitting to their left and right, of maintaining a balance between serving the public and it’s need to know and serving that always hungry beast, ratings. I’ve written on here about my discomfort of actors, particularly those portraying news people, showing up on newscasts in character to essentially mock our line of work or of news people appearing in movies as news people. I’m sure there are enough starving young actors who would jump at the role of news anchor or reporter in order to put food on the table.
Being on television or being pointed out at the local mall does not make you Lupita Nyong’o. As journalists we have a responsibility to those who pay the bills to make sure we remember that when the cameras are rolling.