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Opening Arguments


I remember having a mildly rough day on the job at the Wabash Plain Dealer. In college -- both for classes and assignments for the Ball State Daily News -- it was one story at a time. You got one assignment, you turned it in, you got another one. On my first day at the Plain Dealer, I was given four stories to work on at about 8:30 in the morning and told I had till the noon deadline to finish them. I remember getting them all done -- luckily, they all required only phone-call sourcing, no trips of the office -- but I felt like I could have done a better job on them.

But my first day was nothing like this guy's:

A news anchor in North Dakota has been fired after uttering obscenities for his first words on-air in a video that has gone viral across the country.

KFYR-TV in Bismarck, N.D., fired A.J. Clemente, a recent West Virginia University graduate, after an open microphone caught him saying “f***ing s***” as Sunday’s newscast began. The station apologized following the incident.

He did not realize his microphone was on, but still, that’s no excuse,” Monica Hannan, the station’s news director, said in a statement on KFYR’s Facebook page. “WE train our reporters to always assume that any microphone is live at any time. Unfortunately, that was not enough in this case. WE can’t take back what was said.”

"Always assume that any microphone is live at any time" and "We can't take back what was said." Words to live by.

The only equivalent we have in the print business is "Always assume anything you say to a reporter might be used in a story." At least that's what I've always told friends and aquaintances when they wonder what it's like to be a source. There are some reporters who are very good at putting people at ease to the point where people feel like they're just shooting the breeze with another friendly person. Then they're shocked to see their words in print.

Or at least something close to what they said.

Not sure I would have fired the guy. Making a whopper that bad on his first day could have made him the most careful anchor in the business.