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Wisdom from Springer's mouth to your eyes

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

There are not many definitive statements in life these days, but part of the conventional wisdom that floats in or collective subconscious is the idea that one wouldn't expect profound statements from Jerry Springer.

Springer was one of the speakers at last week's gathering of the radio talk show industry in New York City sponsored by Springfield-based Talkers Magazine.

Now I'm no hypocrite. I've watched plenty of Springer's infamous television show and yes, I know it's a very, very guilty pleasure.

The interesting thing about the former Ohio politician and television news anchor is that he has always been up front about the trash level of the program that bears his name.

He made one reference to the "ridiculously privileged life [he's led] thanks to my stupid television show."

It's has been rumored that Springer has political ambitions and his current talk show on Air America (not heard in this area at this time) is an effort to rehabilitate his image so people would actually vote for him.

Now I think there are probably a whole bunch of people right now who would elect Springer to public office, but he believes he needs to be an issue-oriented media personality instead of someone who is introducing people who are their own grandpa.

I have heard his radio show and he is painfully sincere on it.

After admitting with a broad smile that he "has been everything people don't respect," Springer spoke about the difference between news and entertainment.

He said that the news is honest but doesn't tell the truth, while entertainment is dishonest, but does tell the truth.

He explained that the news that is reported is the interpretation of a group of people and should not be considered the single absolute Truth.

"None of us know the truth," Springer said. He added that news people should always be honest but should never pretend that they have "the truth."

Entertainment is fictional, Springer, explained, but it can reveal some truth. When a work of entertainment is at its best, it can present true statements about the human condition.

Springer is right. Any one journalist who thinks he or she has a headlock on truth can be disappointed. That's because truth is too many times a slippery entity that resists definition.

That is not to say we don't show different sides to a story so that a reader can determine the truth for themselves, because we do that every day.

I've learned, though, that no matter how careful you are in constructing a story, some one is going to disagree with you and see the facts in a different light.

Go into a coffee shop and start talking politics. What is truth to you is not to others. Pick up several different publications with news colored by ideology and you'll see the same thing.

And journalists who perch on a pedestal will more than likely get shoved off.

One more piece of advice from Springer: journalists need to take their work seriously, but not themselves.

That advice could be applied to a whole bunch of other folks as well.

This column represents the opinions of its author and no one else.

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