Friday, December 16, 2011

Alyssa Clemens explains it all for you

We now turn our attention to one Alyssa Clemens, Bob Jones University graduate and Fox News Carolina photojournalist. Clemens was sent by our local Fox News affiliate, to cover Monday's demonstration at BJU. (Yes, this is what passes for objective journalism in upstate South Carolina: A BJU graduate is sent to cover an anti-BJU demonstration. Do you believe?!?) And since Clemens attended BJU's so-called "journalism school"--she sees nothing wrong with openly broadcasting her bias on Facebook.

Clemens posted the following, gloating and baiting the demonstrators:

Dear bju people: because of your personal vendettas, illogical thoughts and distorted views, I am forced to cover your silent protest. But I'm not going to paint you in the best light. Not exactly the coverage you hoped for? Tough luck. Love your local news photojournalist.
Punctuation hers, not mine. (Remember, she went to Bob Jones, so there is going to be a lack of commas and proper capitalization, etc.)

For those who think I overstate the case, this is what the upstate is like.

As I have said a million times, Bob Jones University is running the joint, and they are proud of it. There is not even the pretense of fairness. I'm sure we could find just as many BJU-grads at the Greenville News and other local news outlets. Young Alyssa, drunk on arrogance and power, simply couldn't HOLD IT IN and had to brag and gloat... but I am sure there are many others who have been able to keep quiet and calmly write their biased news accounts, without anyone knowing where they went to school. Except those of us keeping track of the enormous pro-BJU bias, of course.

Alyssa's bragging got re-posted on an anti-BJU page (question: Is she so profoundly ignorant that she thought it wouldn't be? Or was this her intention all along, as I suspect?) and the shit promptly hit the fan. I called Fox News Carolina myself and asked them what was up. Are you serious?--I asked, amazed.

I got the following reply on Wednesday from Kelly Boan, News Director at Fox News Carolina. It is dated Monday, and was sent to all of the outraged emailers and callers:
The person you contacted us about does work for WHNS, but is not a reporter. She holds an entry-level position and does not have any control over the editorial decision-making. A biased version of the story was never actually in danger of making air.

A reporter could take the footage and create a very balanced story tonight, but because of the circumstances surrounding this, I will not air it in any form tonight. No matter how balanced a reporter can make it, I fully understand that many people will still believe the FOX Carolina version is tainted because of the comments on the employee’s Facebook page. Therefore, in the interest of journalistic integrity, the story will not air tonight. We may re-visit it with a different photographer and a reporter at a later date. But, because of the emotion that the comments have sparked on both sides, tonight does not seem appropriate.

The comments on Facebook do not reflect our staff’s view on unbiased reporting. My reporting and editorial staff know and fully believe that balance and objectivity in stories is required for us to maintain credibility and respect with our audience.


Kelly Boan
News Director
WHNS-TV, FOX Carolina
Office: 864-213-2200
Fax: 864-987-1219
Boan, who was very forthcoming, professional and polite on the phone with me, also added this private note addressed to me:
Thank you for calling and asking for a response, rather than making assumptions about our reporting and management staff, who are the ones who actually do the writing and make the editorial decisions. I appreciate that you reached out.
The problem is not simply WHNS, but the fact that anyone would HIRE a graduate of a Dominionist school and expect them to be able to cover news. Even Fox is far too liberal for the Dominionists. The problem is that people seem unaware of exactly what Bob Jones IS. It is not simply a religious school, it is a damaging CULT. These kids are not allowed to watch TV; you know that, right? Why on Earth would you hire them to WORK for TV?

They are not permitted to watch movies or read books of their own choosing. And they are spied on to make SURE they don't. They have no knowledge of popular culture, unbiased world news or political realities. And you hire them to work for a modern news organization? It's like MTV hiring the Amish or something.

What did you EXPECT to happen?


Perhaps Alyssa is smarter than we think, and she wrote her little Facebook missive to deliberately get the unflattering news account suspended/censored? If so, it worked.

WHNS, are you happy with that?

Future employees who might Google Alyssa need to know what kind of "journalism" she majored in: Dominionist crackpot cult journalism should not be confused with real journalism.

And I have a little message of my own:
Dear Alyssa, because of your fundamentalist idiocy, confused arrogance and profound ignorance, I am forced to cover the fact that a blundering "journalist" like yourself is allowed to work for a mainstream media outlet, which is an amazing fact all by itself. You shouldn't be anywhere near actual news coverage, as you have made abundantly clear. I am forced to cover you on my radio show tomorrow as an example of what a total disaster BJU-grads are. I'm not going to paint you in the best light. Not exactly the coverage you hoped for? Tough luck. Love, your local lefty blogger.
Note placement of comma in the last sentence.

Hope you will tune in! WFIS radio, 9-10am, tomorrow morning.


Gregg Jocoy said...

If you are not local, tune in to The Daisy Deadhead Show at the website...

Anonymous said...

FIrst, I'm a student of BJ, but I'm also a strong supporter of BJU Do Right.

I actually called in to WHNS to report the comment that was said. I know Alyssa personally. (FYI, She's not married and hasn't been.) I can't say that I would speak highly of her character. What she said was wrong. News reporters are supposed to be objective in their reporting no mater what is covered.

On the other hand, I'm a journalism/communications major from Bob Jones and they adamantly teach objectivity in reporting. Sadly, the school administration doesn't seem to agree with the journalism and mass communication faculty when it comes to public relations. In essence Miss Clemens did not even remotely use the proper education she did in fact receive. So please don't bash their entire program based off of someone who isn't even representative of it. In fact, I know of at least ten BJ grads who are in news media around Greenville, and I know them to be reputable, knowledgeable, ethical and professional.

Lastly, BJUDR isn't anti-BJ. It's anti-negligence. We seek to promote abuse awareness and proper treatment for those abused at BJ and in Christian circles.

All that to finally say, I'm more than aware of a lot of issues that are at Bob Jones....oh so many... Just please don't write everybody off because of a few idiots.

Anonymous said...

And one last thing, she comes from a rich and somewhat prominent family with connections to the board. She's a bit conceited. I don't particularly like bashing her like this, but I just want to prove the point that not everyone is like her.

DaisyDeadhead said...

Anon: "Lastly, BJUDR isn't anti-BJ."

For the record, this is not where I first saw the link to Clemens' Facebook comment. (I saw it a full day later, after it had gone semi-viral, or locally viral, or whatever its called.) It may have initially been copied from there, but that is not where *I* saw it, so to clarify, I was NOT saying that about "Do Right BJU" but about some personal blogs, live-journals and tumblrs (being anti-BJU).

Anonymous said...

Alyssa is from a wealthy BJU family; they own the Ritas on North Pleasantburg and live in the Cliffs. By the way, poor ethics runs in the family; her dad got busted for this in PA:,7260ce39&icp=1&.intl=us&sig=lj1Mf8Awri0I6ZCQFVLKuA--

senchi said...

anon, how can u cover gay ppl or evolution or other religions? what if u were told to write an obit for just-deceased atheist Christopher Hitchens? no, you can't be objective when u go to a school like that.

JoJo said...

BJU doesn't allow their students to watch TV or read? That's messed up.

TJ said...

Hey Senchi,

The same way non-religious people can cover religious stories. For some people, it's not hard to divorce yourself from a story and go with the facts.

I'm a Bob Jones grad with a journalism degree. I'm fairly certain I could write a good obit of Christopher Hitchens. Or cover a gay rally. Or the latest in evolutionary science.

It's not all that hard to collect facts and write about them. You don't have to agree with someone's life philosophy to write a good news story about it.

News isn't opinion.

As to this blog post, I will also say that painting BJU journalism grads in broad strokes doesn't really help your cause, and in fact could alienate people from joining in. I'm in full agreement that Bob Jones is a terrible place that needs to change or shut down in order to stop hurting the body of Christ.

I also know what I was taught there. I was also allowed to watch the news and read newspapers and other magazines while I was there. A lot of NPR was also listened to.

TJ said...

That said, I really appreciate the work you're doing. You are bringing up things that many Greenville media are not bringing to light.

DaisyDeadhead said...

TJ: I also know what I was taught there. I was also allowed to watch the news and read newspapers and other magazines while I was there. A lot of NPR was also listened to.

You mean in your spare time? It is my understanding that this is not permitted during student time without supervision. Are you saying you earned the right after a certain period of time had elapsed--or that you already had those rights upon entering BJU? (And how did you swing that?)

Or do you mean you read this stuff in journalism class? (Well, I hope so, at the very least.)

TJ: The same way non-religious people can cover religious stories. For some people, it's not hard to divorce yourself from a story and go with the facts.

Senchi's view is her own, but I tend to hold the (somewhat postmodern) opinion that there is no such thing as true 'objectivity'. This is a social construction based on societal expectations and boundaries. I have even gone on record as saying I don't think the largely-non-religious mainstream media CAN cover religion fairly and accurately. And of course, the reverse applies.

Show me a news story, I will show you the bias. Every single one.

DJ Forrester-Roberts said...

I didn't graduate from BJU, but RTV (Radio and Television Journalism) was my major when I was there. They didn't offer "Journalism" as a degree back then. I wasn't interested in TV news, I was more interested in the print media. But I do remember reading a lot of Time and Newsweek Magazines and newspapers I subscribed to via the mail like the NY Times and the Washington Post. This was over 30 years ago but I read all these while on campus, out in public, and nobody ever said anything. Things may have changed though.
Far as objectivity in journalism goes, I wrote for the NY Times Co. for over 13 years. This was back when there WAS objectivity in journalism. I never respected TV reporters (it was a ongoing "hate relationship" between print and TV journalism), and neither did any of the other wonderful reporters I worked with.
But yes, you can be completely objective when writing a story. You just have to be able to compartmentalize things in your mind. I would actually step back from the story, interview both sides (say, HRS vs. A Family). I would then write the story and paint the reader a picture of both sides evenly by quoting each side or describing events on both sides. It got a bit tricky when one side would refuse to be interviewed, but I always managed to maintain my objectivity. When I finished a story, my editors and I made sure that it was up to the reader to decide who was right and who was wrong in the stories I wrote. I never inserted an opinion on an investigative piece or a feature story. I saved that for the weekly columns I wrote.
Opinions should be kept on editorial pages. That's what those pages are for.
With the birth of the 24 hours news cycle many years ago, objectivity in journalism has almost become a thing of the past. That makes me sad. But I feel fortunate I came on the scene at the end of an era. Point being, objectivity in reporting is VERY possible as long as your mind is equipped to be open minded and objective. It's just not practiced the way it used to be. But, yes, it is entirely possible to be objective when writing a story.

DaisyDeadhead said...

DJ: This was over 30 years ago but I read all these while on campus, out in public, and nobody ever said anything.

Were you allowed to read what you wanted in private, without answering to anyone? Did you require permission?

How about books?

I was told by one BJU student (back in 2002), that he got in trouble for checking St. Athanasius out of the school library; he was interrogated about why he would want to read that. (And since he WAS thinking of jumping ship, he didn't have a ready answer for that.)

DJ: Far as objectivity in journalism goes, I wrote for the NY Times Co. for over 13 years. This was back when there WAS objectivity in journalism.

DJ, sorry, this is a deep philosophical difference between us. In my humble opinion (as well as other smart people), there has never been objectivity in journalism, especially during the time you say, since it was virtually all white heterosexual middle class men running the profession. That INSURES there can not possibly be any objectivity, since only certain perspectives are even considered valid in the first place.

"Objectivity" is supposedly the detached "real" story, but I think there are as many stories of an event, as there are people who witnessed an event. One is more comprehensive, perhaps, but one account is not more "true" than the other. I don't believe there is an objective truth in any given situation; there are many versions of the truth. Christians must necessarily believe in objective truth, since Christianity depends on it--bottom line. This is why I think fundamentalist Christianity, above all, fails at telling a pluralism of stories and therefore actively excludes. It can't NOT exclude.

For example, an account of the war in Afghanistan from THEIR point of view, will read very differently than an account from a US military point of view. One is not CORRECT and the other is not INCORRECT, they are both telling the truth as they understand it and have witnessed it. And WE will not have the whole truth if we only read one account. The more stories and accounts we are aware of, the more our knowledge of a situation evolves to give us a clearer, more all-encompassing view. (And this is my goal, at least.)

Postmodern philosophy

DJ Forrester-Roberts said...

I can speak about myself and the reporters I knew. It's my profession and it saddens me how slimy the journalism profession has become. Not trying to argue:). I like you! But I know that I wrote many stories objectively. It came naturally to me. If you read any of the stories I wrote you wouldn't see an ounce of "me" in that story, other than my style of writing. You just have to take yourself completely away from the story. There were/are good reporters out there, just not many anymore. I had the good fortune of knowing quite a few.
Far as books at BJU, no, we weren't allowed to read just any book.
I had a class with a professor named Dr. Don Garlock who many considered to be the best professor at BJU back then. He taught a communications course and he was VERY selective on who he allowed into the class.
He gave us an assignment to write about some movie or book that had a "negative" impact on society, so I chose "The Exorcist". I hid it well in my room, and a goody-two-shoes roommate found (the bitch, grrr) and reported me for having it.
Next thing I knew I was in counseling (and I'm NOT making this up...) for being Demon Possessed. rofl.
The sad part was that Dr. Garlock got fired:(.
I was always a bit of a rebel and the rules at BJU didn't bother me because I'd grown up in a church/school much like it. I was able to get around a lot of those rules, lol.
But no, you certainly couldn't read anything you wanted to. I was amazed when I got out and married another writer/editor that there were SO MANY great writers that BJU had NOT introduced me to (like Fitzgerald, Steinbeck, Truman Capote, Woody Allen, to name a few). Now I can't imagine life w/out those writers (and film directors).
(NOTE: Wrote this in a hurry and didn't edit. Take 'er away, auto-correct! lol).

DJ Forrester-Roberts said...

Forgot to mention...I AM a woman, lol. I always forget that people don't automatically realize that by my name (duh).
When I became a reporter I worked for some wonderful male (think Lou Grant) and female editors. Our staff was equally composed of male and female reporters.
And if a reporter is writing objectively, you ONLY see a picture of a story, not a point of view. It's our job to paint all sides of the picture and let the reader decide his or her own truth based on the facts we collect. To me, that's objectivity. And by the way, I also used to work in radio and I love listening to you show:).

DaisyDeadhead said...

Glad you like the show, this is my first experience as a host. (I was a radio guest a few times back in the day, but that's it.) It still SCARES ME and I continue to have terrible flop sweat beforehand.

That story about Garlock is pretty grim. :(

DJ: If you read any of the stories I wrote you wouldn't see an ounce of "me" in that story

So you didn't write it in English or in the USA, using American idiom/culture as your narrative background?

So, see, you left plenty of "me" in the story, you just take those particular aspects of "me" for granted.

Check the link... I can't commit to the concept of objectivity per se. Ask anyone who has just moved to the USA, what their take on any recent news story is. It's quite eye-opening to get a perspective from Muslims, Brazilians, Pakistanis, etc. Their idea of objectivity will also be far different than ours. So who is "right"?

Answer: nobody and everybody. There is simply no such thing as objective truth.

DaisyDeadhead said...

DJ: And if a reporter is writing objectively, you ONLY see a picture of a story, not a point of view. It's our job to paint all sides of the picture and let the reader decide his or her own truth based on the facts we collect. To me, that's objectivity.

To me, you have just described another point of view, labeled "American/Western journalism-school-based objectivity"--and yes, it is necessary to learn this method to get a job in Western media. But it is a point of view like any other. The best thing about it is, it is comprehensive about facts. The worst thing about it, as we see here, is that people actually believe that such a perspective is "objective" rather than the perspective of a New York Times reporter taught a certain type of "objectivity" preferred by her particular news outlet. (The National Enquirer, another news outlet, has different standards.)

As I said, show me the news story, I will show you the bias.

Even saying something as simple as "he is short" or "he is tall" changes in different cultures, like in China, where people are shorter than Americans, on average. The American tall person might be described by the Chinese as "very tall" (I actually just saw this on America's Next Top Model, where the 6-feet tall models went to Shanghai, and towered over everybody), while the "short" person would be described as average.

So who is right, the Chinese or us? We are both right, coming from different cultures and perspectives.