My career would have taken off if I had been a weatherman in a wheelchair like Lieutenant Governor David Onley
David Onley was a weatherman with a polio disability for City TV who used a scooter on camera.
Prime Minister Harper liked Onley so much he made him Lieutenant Governor of Ontario.
Looking back I can see my career mistake was being a regular news journalist instead of a weatherman in a wheelchair.
The PEI Press Gallery hung me out to dry and the Prime Minister never calls me, even on a sunny day. See Media wrong in Pate-gate
Other than that David Onley and I are pretty much alike – 60ish, male, polio survivors, journalists, and disability advocates.
I’m not sure if I should say weather person or not. Since it is not an issue whether I am a man or woman, I’ll take the risk of being gender specific and say weatherman in my case. If anyone is upset by that, I can change the word.
You can see right off the bat, the PEI Press Gallery has me nervous about writing. Forget about freedom of expression. You have to be politically correct to be a journalist or even a university professor.
I learned my lesson – politically correct is the way to go. On Prince Edward Island that means smile and nod in public, write stories about the Ladies Auxiliary, and rip the lying politicians in the privacy of your own closet or bathroom.
That’s how PEI’s favorite weather person Boomer Gallant survives. Man nobody takes him out even when his humor is sad or weak. He’s the good old weatherman with a jolly personality. He can say the dandiest things, but quickly, between cold fronts and hot air or warm fronts. Boomer is a satirical genius but gets away with it because he’s the weatherman.
But a reporter, he or she just has to get into trouble, asking the wrong questions, reporting the corruption and then one day you’ve upset some bigwig or politician.
Crossing the line in the sand
You can even upset other journalists by crossing a line in the sand.
“Did I miss the mark or overstep the line that only you could see?” wrote Bob Dylan.
I guess I did according the W. Thibodeau the political reporter for the Charlottetown Guardian and Press Gallery president. He said I was “…not only over the line, he doesn’t acknowledge that a line exists.”
Just like the song, I stepped over a line I don’t even see. I thought that journalism meant fearlessly digging for the truth. I thought being a journalist meant being funny like Boomer. Boy was I wrong.
Being a journalist is like being a member of the Boy Scouts. Swear the pledge and keep silent about what happens in the dark.
How was I to know? My models are Woodward and Bernstein from the Watergate scandal. Dig for the truth, question people relentlessly, hang out with Deep Throat and report breathlessly. All wrong.
And nobody wants it from a reporter in a wheelchair. I can’t tell if it’s because they think your uppity when you’re sitting down in a wheelchair or you take up too much space.
Mr. Thibodeau said there was no room for me in the press gallery, they were too tight for space. ”We have 6 working spaces in the media room two are taken up by CBC, two by the Guardian and two by private radio…Now one may argue you can make room for one more. Well that may be the case but that’s not the reality”
I’ll admit I am wider that a journalist standing up. I prayed to be able to stand up and not take any more space. “Dear Lord, let me walk so the I won’t take up too much room in the Press Gallery.” Maybe He didn’t answer when I tacked on a postscript, “And make a millionaire while You are at it.”
That’s why a weatherman is a safer journalism job.
First he’s never right, so he’s always wrong. We don’t say the weatherman is a liar, just he’s never right. It goes with the job.
It is snows for two days, the Prime Minister does not yell at the weatherman David Onley. He promotes him to Lieutenant Governor.
Maybe that’s it. Weather persons get promoted on the Peter Principal.
This is a satire of a serious topic, disability discrimination in the media. It’s exists and it’s not funny.