Don’t Judge People You Don’t Know

I couldn’t believe my eyes.

Now the newspaper reporting in this country can be a bit shocking. We always say, “What the Press (and associated newspapers) don’t know, they’ll make up” (just to sell a good story). But when I saw they slagged off someone I knew in the papers, I had to write and complain.

It started with my daily reading of the Stuff Web site, the conglomeration of several New Zealand newspapers (The Press included) owned by the same company on one site. On the site, browsing away, I found a review of the new “Top Chef” (series 3) premier.

For those of you who don’t know what “Top Chef” is about, it’s a reality TV show where several chefs are given challenges and eliminated until only a few remain. One of those chefs will go on to become crowned the “Top Chef” of that season.

Anyway, several months ago, even before it was aired in the US, I found out someone I went to high school with and still keep in sporadic contact with was one of the contestants. He and I were on swim team together, and it wasn’t like we were the best of friends or anything but I had no hassle with him, nor him with me. I always thought he was a nice guy but being shy (although I’d hide that with my loud exterior) I never really got to know him as a close friend.

Of course, I’ll cheer anyone on that I know because I am proud of them and to know them and I’m loyal like that. I envy the position they are in, pray that if I was in the same position that I would have the courage and strength to do what they were doing, and genuinely want them to do well.

Finally, TV3 screened “Top Chef” between the advertisements. If you don’t know TV3, it’s mostly advertisements with a few bits of programme shoved between them, when they can find the time. The worst is when they screen movies and get to the last hour. Alas, I digress.

Dave, Noel and I watched the first episode. There was Dale and the other contestants duking it out. Not physically. We enjoyed the episode (I don’t want to get into details about the conversations) and thought it was great.

So when I was reading Stuff yesterday, I gasped when I read what the wrote about this guy I knew. Basically, the reviewer thought he looked like he was “a few sandwiches short of a picnic” in her book because he had a mohawk. Whatcha talkin bout Willis?

What is the need for a personal attack like that? Does she think she’s being clever? Maybe she should focus on writing quality and not some gutter journalism piece?

In university, I took several journalism courses and we were taught to remain ethical and professional at all times. This reviewer seemed to just throw that all out the window and stooped as low as she possible could.

I mean, if she said, “He didn’t seem to know how to cook the ingredients, so we’d have to question his credentials” or “His cooking style differed from the others” or “He appeared to be out of his depth”, those are valid statements. (Not that I am saying that he doesn’t know how to cook, et cetera, but what I’m doing is showing an example of what she could say and be within her right to do so.) But to call someone “a few sandwiches short of a picnic” implies he and the other contestant she was talking about are idiots. And I’m sorry, but unless you know someone to be an idiot… don’t judge.

So I fired off a very angry letter to the Dominion Post (the newspaper in charge of the reviewer) and haven’t heard anything back. Unlike the journalist/reviewer (if you could call her that), I didn’t stoop so low and give a few punches under the belt like she did. I was tempted, but it wouldn’t prove that I have the class and dignity to use the facts to push my point across.

Shame on you, Dominion Post.

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