Charlo Greene, the now former Anchorage, Alaska television news reporter, dropped a massive bomb Sunday night while presenting her story on marijuana for CBS affiliate station KTVA 11 News. The back story in a nutshell is she had been doing a series of reports on the legalization of marijuana. It's an issue Alaska voters will decide yes or no on in November. However, on that particular night she ended her report by disclosing she was the owner of the Alaska Cannabis Club and then after cluing the viewers in on the very blatant conflict of interest she decided to say, "And as for this job, well, not that I have a choice but, f**k it, I quit."
Let me point out that Charlo Greene has every right to be passionate about a cause. There are a number of studies that say marijuana is great if taken for medical issues. I don't dispute that and I won't dispute that. My issue with her has everything to do with her actions and the way that she handled her ending to the story. She has said in several post and videos since the Sunday night incident that she wouldn't change the way she handled the situation. Her motive was to bring attention to what she calls an important issue in Alaska and attention is what she and her cause is receiving. The attention, however, is all for the wrong reason. People are talking more about her drop of the f-bomb and not the vote on marijuana that will happen in that state in November.
Initially, I thought the video was a joke, so naturally I laughed. However, as the day went on I found it to be more and more off-putting and not in a prude kind of way where I can't take joke. To her this wasn't a joke, this was real life, this is real life, she is leaving her job as a television reporter to fight for the right to legalize marijuana and continue growing the business that she owns. My disgust starts with her platform and something more I read during an interview she did with Vice. When asked why she decided to quit in such an extravagant fashion, part of her response was "To draw attention to the issue." She went on to say, "So why not just use the position I was put in to make sure that my next chapter is just wide open for me?"
Charlo, if you happen to read this, please listen to me carefully. You mentioned to Vice that you have worked your entire adult life in the television journalism industry and yet you threw it all away so quickly. Not to mention, the people in your community who identified with you now they are left wondering why the woman used such foul language on television and more importantly was she high while doing so. But I think the most damaging part to me was your total lack of respect and gratitude to the industry you say you worked so hard to perfect and master. There are students in this country literally bursting at the seams to get into this business we call television news. You just made it that much harder for people to get into a business that is already hard to get into. I'm not sure about your career path or how long it took you to land your first job but this industry is a privilege, not everyone makes it into the club. More importantly, in this progressive country, the state of digital media and ever-changing landscape of news there are still very few people of color presenting the news.
I'm not sure if you are aware but some of us are still lumped into one category and when you behave badly it is a reflection on all of us. Your actions made it that much more difficult for journalism students of color who really have a passion for storytelling and journalism to enter the profession. In my very humble opinion, the actions displayed by you on air that day was a slap or spit in the face of great journalist of color, the people who paved the way for many of us to be able to stand or sit in such a position of great expectation. At any time did you stop to think about the path Carole Simpson paved? What about the late and great Ed Bradley? What about Max Robinson or Belva Davis? How about now in this day in age, Bryant Gumbel, Tamron Hall, and Bill Whitaker? All of the above people mentioned are journalists who make or had a history of making a difference in the industry. This job comes with great responsibility and you took that responsibility and selfishly tarnished the reputation of KTVA and all of the employees who continue to work there.
Finally, November is not far away. Did you stop to also think about the very industry you so disrespectfully shrugged off is the way to get your message out? If the goal was to get people to the polls to vote how will they hear your message without media support? It's not my intention to have you change your mind or feel horrible about your decision. I applaud your decision to stand for what you deem is right but I'm brought back to the way it was done. Yes, I agree there are stations and managers in the industry that could really care less about you as a person, but again, you should remember going forward that this industry provides you with a platform to inform and educate. Yes, each television market has its own set of community issues. Maybe legalizing marijuana is the issue of the moment in Anchorage, maybe the rate of arrest is high and that's why it's important. Maybe, it's happening more to the African-American population there, I don't know! But what I do know here in the lower 48, black unarmed teens are being shot down by police. The rate of black on black violence continues to skyrocket and the best people to tell those stories are people who could possibly identify with the struggle. So, no, I don't agree with you and your unapologetic stance on the way in which you decided to leave your station. The headline you wanted is lost, instead everyone is talking about the foul word you uttered and I know there are other people out there like me who just can't believe you use such a platform that many people who look like you and me aren't always given.