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Workshop:Cablevision claims federal okay to rob Orangetown blind
The Fearless Editorial
Anne Phyllis Pinzow

Anne Phyllis Pinzow is a script writer who makes her main living as a newspaper reporter and editor.  


Here below Pinzow demonstrates how the reporter's taking a position on a public issue can help readers understand other articles by that reporter -- and in that paper.  This editorial was published in a local paper where Pinzow is on staff. 


I was brought up by an entrepreneur who, though he never was a very rich man, was an honest one. He taught me that you have to work for everything and that anything that appears to be just given, means you'll probably have to work twice has hard for it later on and that it most likely won't be worth half the price.

I consider myself not only a law abiding but a pretty easy going individual who will put up with a lot of things, increased property and school taxes though I've never had children, no pool, which I would use, and paying for fields I'll never use.

Though I don't personally benefit from many things I'm paying for, these things benefit the community as a whole and so though it makes things financially more difficult, it's still worth the price to live in a place I love.

However, I won't stand for being robbed.

I especially won't stand for it when I see that I'm not the only one who is being robbed and that the thieves are totally beyond the law.

My story began when I found myself with a rare couple of hour's free time and decided to catch a favorite movie on the Turner Classic Movie Channel.

I really liked that channel because I could catch some black and white classic or musical favorite, sit back and enjoy the pure escapism that often left a lot more to the imagination than graphically splashing it on the screen for lack of the writer's imagination.

But, TCM is no longer to be had on the cable plan that I have because I've been told it's been moved to the digital package.

Complaining to Cablevision has brought me to the conclusion that they are thieves and that there's nothing anyone can do about it except pray for Verizon to offer some honest competition, when it eventually gets to Orangetown.

Calling to voice my woes brought me no satisfaction. "But you can rent a box, (for $6 a month) and get the first year free (but I'd still have to pay $4.95 extra for the plan that has the channel)." After that year I'd have to pay an additional the $6 a month bringing the total to $10.95 a month more than I'm paying now, I've been told by their representative answering my complaints.

My point is that I was paying for cable and Optima and now the services provided have been reduced. But instead of giving me a discount for reduced service, I'm being asked to pay more for what I am already paying for and not getting.

I've also been informed that because in the future, all channels must become digital, the service I'm paying for now will still cost the same while delivering less and less as channels are moved off the program.

"We were authorized by the FCC to start putting channels in the digital format," said Cablevision's spokesperson.

So, I responded, "all you're telling me is that the Federal government has given you justification to cheat me."

"I'm sorry you feel that way, Mam."

As if this isn't bad enough, Cablevision has plans to continue to move more and more channels off of the present technology and onto digital.

But oh, instead of discounting the cost because of the minimized service, they've decided to do us all a favor and not increase the fees, said the spokeswomen.

The thing is that according to all these Congressional acts, digitalizing of these services is not supposed to raise rates at all. We're supposed to be able to get both digital and analog and the same rates.

The point is that I don't feel I ask for much out of life, a solid roof, a warm bed, clothing, food, and just a few amenities which aren't strictly things that are needed to live.

If I want more, I'll pay for more. If I want less, then supposedly its money saved for my quickly approaching old age. But I get to choose.

When I have to pay the same for less and less, that get's me riled and so I'm doing the one thing I can do.

Cablevision, you're a bunch of thieves!


HOMEWORK: For this Cablevision editorial plus the Nine-Eleven Editorial

Find a local issue where some gross mismanagement is occurring and write it up from a personal opinion point of view that encompasses the Editorial Slant of a local newspaper.  In the above instance, you will note that though the editorial is in the first person and describes a personal issue, the stance notes that the local monopoly appears to be in violation of the spirit if not the letter of the Federal Law. 

The editorial position here is that the individual's rights should prevail. 

Find a local issue and write an editorial that is predicated on the assumption that the individual's rights should prevail.  Then write the same editorial for a paper which is in favor of business rights forcing individuals to conform. 

Then write the op-ed pieces that your readership would fire back at each of these two editorials.

Remember, a reporter or editor works for a news organization that has a "slant" -- a political stance which is imposed from above by the owners.  Reporters and editors have no power to change that slant.

To keep your job, you must be able to turn out copy that reflects whatever opinion is embedded in the organization you work for -- regardless of your own opinion. 

This exercise will sharpen your ability to discern slant in journalistic writing and also your ability to say "no" to a job for a paper whose slant you personally cannot support. 

Once you've completed your editorial pieces, try submitting them to local papers as op-ed pieces, countering the editorial slant of the paper you submit to. 

Remember, all the articles you turn out as exercises in this Visual Writing section can be posted on your personal website as examples of your writing -- and could get you a job you really love. 


Read the other lessons by Anne Phyllis Pinzow.  Especially her Rules for good reporting.  See also the 9/11 Editorial and its lesson. 


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