59 Minutes

Friday, May 22, 2009


Three weeks before a "60 Minutes" report on oil giant Chevron aired, one with a similar look and feel popped up on YouTube - this one by former journalist Gene Randall who was hired by Chevron to tell its side of the story. Randall says that those who object to his report are forgetting he's a former journalist.

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Comments [7]

Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

While a month or two ago I yacked about 'real reporters will report without a paycheck', it is hard to slight someone fighting age disrimination and trying to feed his family just for one use of one word.

May. 28 2009 09:13 PM
Mike from Catonsville, MD

I was a young grunt at CNN who counts himself very lucky to have crossed paths with Gene. As someone who also made the switch from news to PR, I think he's exactly right when he speaks of using the skills he's developed to make a living. There's nothing wrong with that, especially when your life's work turns its back on you as it did with Gene.

The question about using the word "reporting" is justified and its point is correct. However, that term is used very loosely nowadays, especially by those who dominate prime time on the cable nets. Yes, that means you, Bill and Keith.

When it comes to trading on his name, he did leave CNN eight years ago. It's not like the revolving door spun last week or last year. I hate to say this but your average YouTube viewers probably never watched him on CNN. Instead, they're simply watching someone who knows how to successfully get information across to viewers.

May. 27 2009 01:59 PM

Perhaps one of those critics who is so concerned about his use of the word "reporting" could offer him a TV job.

Like the other commenter said, what's he supposed to do -- live on welfare? Interestingly, the same industry (journalism) that never hesitates to charge others with discrimination has no problem being discriminatory itself. TV is worse than print, but these days, not that much.

As someone of roughly Randall's age, I have been turned down for many print journalism jobs with the comment that the job was "too junior" "not challenging enough" or that I was "overqualified."

What does "overqualified" actually mean? If you are able and willing to do the job as the employer wants it done, for the salary it is willing to pay, what difference does it make whether you could potentially do something else? Sure, you could become discontented with your pay and leave -- don't young journalists do that all the time as they move up? They do, so obviously something else is at work when older journalists are turned down for jobs on the premise that they would become dissatisfied.

The fact that I would rather do an ordinary reporting or copy editing job than leave the industry didn't concern anyone. It was all age, age, age.

May. 27 2009 12:46 AM
Bush Bernard

I thought Mr. Randall's report was well done. It is much better than the infomercials that health-care conglomerates produce for local news shows to voice over and pass off as their own "medical reporting."

I saw the 60 Minutes report too and don't remember them raising the issue of ex post facto law, Texaco's profits vs. Ecuador's or the reliability of the testing lab used by the plaintiffs attorneys or the court-appointed "expert."

For the critics here, if 60 Minutes didn't include what Chevron believed was pertinent information in its report, how should Chevron have told its side of the story?

I thought this was a great rebuttal, using the same medium as the original story. They didn't try to pass it off as a documentary or a network report and I suspect that Mr. Randall actually did some reporting to tell this story.

Is Mr. Randall supposed to go away and live on welfare because CNN chose to cut him loose and the news business has tanked for older workers? Look around newsrooms today. There are a lot fewer journalists there today than there were 10 years ago. And the journalists who remain are less experienced.

A seasoned reporter can bring a lot of value to a corporate communications department. You don't lose your desire to learn the truth or tell the truth when you walk out of the news room for the last time. You also don't lose your right to earn a living.

The news business has changed dramatically in the past few years. Mr. Randall is one of a growing number of what I call "corporate journalists," people who bring their journalism skills, training and eye for accuracy to the corporate world. I'm one of them too.

We don't lie. We don't cheat. We don't steal. We don't stand by while others do wrong. Its not in our blood. That's why we became journalists in the first place.

What we do is tell stories, just like we always have. Only the corporation that is paying us has changed, as has the audience.

May. 26 2009 09:35 PM
Rich Perez

At least he was honest enough to essentially admit that he did it for a buck. Whether he can sleep at night knowing that he pimped himself is something only those close to him would know.

May. 26 2009 04:55 PM
J. Blackburn from Santa Rosa, CA KQED member

Au Contraire Mr. Corporate PR guy posing as a reporter. I didn't know your name. If I'd heard of you I didn't remember it. All I would have to go on is you saying, "Reporting from XXX" and figure that you were a "reporter" when you were being paid by Chevron to tell THEIR side of the story, not REPORT both sides of the story.

You can rationalize it however you want but your faux news is just a PR ad and as someone on the outside looking in I can tell you that I'm not confused by your former job. You may wish I was confused. But I'm not. You said reporting. You were shilling. No confusion. Nope.

And I don't think that interview and the Spanish Inquisition had much in common.

May. 24 2009 06:23 PM
G.R. Zempel

Well, i suppose Chevron wouldn't pay him to say "I'm not a journalist anymore, but I still play one on TV." And it's probably right that unfrocked priests and self-sold-out journalists not be subject to the same sentences for de-facto fraud as de-credentialed lawyers and doctors.

But I hope you do a follow-up piece -- when he's dead and you've found out what his fee for that was, and what he could subsequently command, and you can analyze whether he sold his reputation and perhaps what's left of his career for a meal of porridge (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mess_of_pottage). Better yet, if you can find out how he spent and saved while at CNN. Did he choose his profession unwisely, or did he just live like so many pro athletes and lottery winners, drunk on being temporarily flush with cash? And maybe even outrageously imagining now a moral *right* to "support his family" by any means necessary for continuing, as the phrase goes, "the style to which they have become accustomed"?

BTW, the longest of his three mentions in Wikipedia is "Gene Randall, Anchor/Reporter, now with the Gene Randall Group, Washington, DC (formerly of CNN)" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WTVC#Past_personalities). Is this going to finally merit him a wiki-biography?

May. 23 2009 04:55 PM

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