The United Kingdom’s Daily Mail recently decided to break a “story” about actor Geoffrey Owens who works at Trader Joe’s in addition to his current acting career and other life activities, such as apparently taking care of his 95-year old mother.
Facing widespread and bipartisan, and in this case justified, backlash quickly on social media, including even from the sternly neutral Dictionary.com, this saga is a firsthand example of some of the problems infecting our current journalistic climate.
As someone who dabbles in the acting and media worlds myself, I am grateful that my “job between gigs” is a fruitful and well paying one. I also realize how blessed I am, as for many of the actors who entertain and make us laugh, cry, and wonder big ideas on screen every year it’s a much rougher and tumble life.
It is well known how many famous actors were waiting tables, working odd jobs, living in roommate-packed apartments, and other true grit struggles while trying to get the breakthrough in a turbulent industry where but a few attain stardom and riches.
It is a tough life but a fulfilling one for many at the end of the day, as they/we get to spend a substantial amount of one’s professional time doing what many others dream of and something truly enjoyable and fun.
On the broader point, however, the way the Daily Mail described Geoffrey Owens’ situation – apparently without comment from him – was clearly meant to disparage not only his profession but his job within itself.
There is nothing wrong with working at Trader Joes. It is an honest job that society is willing to pay for and provides a living to those involved. It may offer him benefits specifically suitable for actors such as the ability to take time off quickly and frequently, which is precisely why many actors look to such service jobs.
It may be beyond the comprehension of the folks involved in the story at the Daily Mail that the millions of Americans out there who work in the numerous jobs out there that run our society day-to-day are not only happy and fulfilled but also perhaps even more necessary than them, as the recent and repeated series of layoffs at both the Daily Mail and in the traditional journalism industry overall show.
I am not bashing journalists. Many serve an essential role in our society in providing coverage of events going on in society as well as uncovering information and stories that are of concern and interest to the public but might otherwise fall out of sight. Just like the other countless jobs out there, they serve a purpose – no lower, but also no higher.
Yet the Daily Mail decided to take this tip they received and actually allow it to become published in such a manner. In my opinion, this speaks more about the people involved in that ‘journalistic’ process. It is worth noting no one clearly had the guts at the Daily Mail to put their name on the piece, as the byline merely reads “DailyMail.com Reporter.”
Journalism is a tough industry as well and particularly nowadays amid the advertising revenue drain brought about by Internet services and social media companies and the decline of traditional, particularly print, subscriptions. Many journalists, even at the height of their careers, find the work still grinding and the pay not compensating the amount of intellect and work they put into. Indeed that’s why traditional journalism now ranks as one of the ‘worst’ jobs in America due to that chaos and stress.
Many still love it and many don’t. It is what it is, as everyone lives their own life with their own cares and wants.
However the fact that these ‘journalists’ at the Daily Mail decided to use the small bits of ‘power’ they have to, in their minds at least, ‘punch down’ on someone like Geoffrey Owens is sad and despicable. But we should remember it is more that they are compensating for their own bitterness and inadequacy.
I do not know Geoffrey Owens but to trash him merely because of his work, not too different from most in the acting industry and a well-accepted part of it, and a type of job that countless millions of Americans work dutifully and proudly every day, is lunacy, cowardly, and Un-American.
In this country any job that pays and is legal is honest work and considered by the market to be socially useful and necessary. Maybe if these journalists at the Daily Mail soon find themselves again on the free market’s chopping block they will understand that reality all too well.