Of Susan Slusser and the Golden Rule

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Of Susan Slusser and the Golden Rule

Chances are I wouldn’t rec­og­nize Susan Slusser if she passed me by on the street. I’ve seen her photo online and her on local sports tele­vi­sion a few times, but given how I’m the liv­ing embod­i­ment of jok­ingly stat­ing the rea­son retail work­ers wear nametags is so we can remem­ber our own, it should come as no sur­prise I’d most likely miss her if she was tap danc­ing in front of me. In a duet with Stomper.

Ms. Slusser is a superb sports reporter for the San Fran­cisco Chron­i­cle. Her main assign­ment since 1999 has been my beloved (albeit some­times bedrag­gled) Oak­land A’s. She writes with crisp, clean accu­racy, cov­er­ing the team’s ups and downs while draw­ing lit­tle if any atten­tion to her­self. It’s said the best ref­er­ees and umpires are the ones you never notice due to their call­ing the game cor­rectly. Sim­i­larly, in today’s world where report­ing and opin­ion are far too often mixed in an unwieldy, unsat­is­fac­tory in both areas whole, Ms. Slusser is admirable in keep­ing the two sep­a­rate, never tip­ping her hand or inter­ject­ing her­self into the story. She is infor­ma­tive, in depth, and invisible.

Like most every media per­son in any field these days, Ms. Slusser has a social media pres­ence. Unlike most every media per­son in any field these days, using said social media as some­thing other than sheer self-​promotion she engages with her read­ers, or at least the ones with a few synapses fir­ing in coor­di­nated fash­ion. I’ve exchanged a few tweets with her in recent months, and she has been unfail­ingly polite and infor­ma­tive. In like fash­ion, I have always addressed her with com­pletely deserved com­pli­ments, respect, and con­sid­er­a­tion, often look­ing for a way to insert some­thing she hope­fully finds chuckle-​worthy into the con­ver­sa­tion. I gotta be me, after all.

I’m quite cer­tain that Ms. Slusser and I voted for dif­fer­ent Pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates last Novem­ber. Which is fine. Pol­i­tics aren’t every­thing; I’d much rather chat about what the A’s are doing to address their defen­sive defi­cien­cies or my beloved clas­sic Chris­t­ian rock artists. I don’t need to debate every pol­icy and plat­form with every­one. Some­times — most all of the time, in fact — I’d rather find com­mon ground and not mix pol­i­tics with every­thing else. I’d rather enjoy a ball­game. I also fig­ured out quite some time ago that no one in Wash­ing­ton DC was refresh­ing any given blog site where I write fifty times a day, trem­bling with antic­i­pa­tion of my next great pro­nounce­ment so they’d know which poli­cies and plat­forms to pur­sue. Some­thing oth­ers, given their predilec­tion for inces­sant self-​righteous bab­ble, have appar­ently yet to learn. But I digress.

There are many on my side of the polit­i­cal aisle who live for open com­bat with one and all in main­stream media. It works for them. It gen­er­ates heat; it cre­ates a sce­nario in which the fear­less flamethrower, backed by gal­lant retweet­ers and such, speaks truth to power hid­ing behind cor­po­rate walls. Makes for great spec­ta­cle. Hail the con­quer­ing snark­nado master!

If some­one isn’t doing their job prop­erly because of implied or overt bias, fine. Call them out. They deserve it. But with this duly noted, is it impos­si­ble to praise, and treat the same way you and I wish to be treated, reporters who regard­less of their polit­i­cal beliefs do work of the high­est qual­ity? Or for that mat­ter, mem­bers of any given profession?

Cer­tainly engag­ing peo­ple as, well, peo­ple is far less excit­ing and attention-​drawing than treat­ing oth­ers as raw meat des­ig­nated for toss­ing to your wolf­pack fan club. But does the lat­ter gen­uinely accom­plish any­thing? Sure, you look like the tough guy or mucha macha chica on Twit­ter et al. You’ve also alien­ated, prob­a­bly per­ma­nently, a whole lot of peo­ple you’re sup­posed to be try­ing to reach for your cause who, aston­ish­ing as it may seem, aren’t that inter­ested in your totem pole posi­tion­ing within their echo cham­ber. Why not for once try being respect­ful to another human being pos­sess­ing the same dig­nity and worth as you? If it doesn’t work, you did the right thing. But if it does …

… you too can exchange tweets with the Susan Slussers of this world.

Chances are I wouldn’t recognize Susan Slusser if she passed me by on the street. I’ve seen her photo online and her on local sports television a few times, but given how I’m the living embodiment of jokingly stating the reason retail workers wear nametags is so we can remember our own, it should come as no surprise I’d most likely miss her if she was tap dancing in front of me. In a duet with Stomper.

Ms. Slusser is a superb sports reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle. Her main assignment since 1999 has been my beloved (albeit sometimes bedraggled) Oakland A’s. She writes with crisp, clean accuracy, covering the team’s ups and downs while drawing little if any attention to herself. It’s said the best referees and umpires are the ones you never notice due to their calling the game correctly. Similarly, in today’s world where reporting and opinion are far too often mixed in an unwieldy, unsatisfactory in both areas whole, Ms. Slusser is admirable in keeping the two separate, never tipping her hand or interjecting herself into the story. She is informative, in depth, and invisible.

Like most every media person in any field these days, Ms. Slusser has a social media presence. Unlike most every media person in any field these days, using said social media as something other than sheer self-promotion she engages with her readers, or at least the ones with a few synapses firing in coordinated fashion. I’ve exchanged a few tweets with her in recent months, and she has been unfailingly polite and informative. In like fashion, I have always addressed her with completely deserved compliments, respect, and consideration, often looking for a way to insert something she hopefully finds chuckle-worthy into the conversation. I gotta be me, after all.

I’m quite certain that Ms. Slusser and I voted for different Presidential candidates last November. Which is fine. Politics aren’t everything; I’d much rather chat about what the A’s are doing to address their defensive deficiencies or my beloved classic Christian rock artists. I don’t need to debate every policy and platform with everyone. Sometimes – most all of the time, in fact – I’d rather find common ground and not mix politics with everything else. I’d rather enjoy a ballgame. I also figured out quite some time ago that no one in Washington DC was refreshing any given blog site where I write fifty times a day, trembling with anticipation of my next great pronouncement so they’d know which policies and platforms to pursue. Something others, given their predilection for incessant self-righteous babble, have apparently yet to learn. But I digress.

There are many on my side of the political aisle who live for open combat with one and all in mainstream media. It works for them. It generates heat; it creates a scenario in which the fearless flamethrower, backed by gallant retweeters and such, speaks truth to power hiding behind corporate walls. Makes for great spectacle. Hail the conquering snarknado master!

If someone isn’t doing their job properly because of implied or overt bias, fine. Call them out. They deserve it. But with this duly noted, is it impossible to praise, and treat the same way you and I wish to be treated, reporters who regardless of their political beliefs do work of the highest quality? Or for that matter, members of any given profession?

Certainly engaging people as, well, people is far less exciting and attention-drawing than treating others as raw meat designated for tossing to your wolfpack fan club. But does the latter genuinely accomplish anything? Sure, you look like the tough guy or mucha macha chica on Twitter et al. You’ve also alienated, probably permanently, a whole lot of people you’re supposed to be trying to reach for your cause who, astonishing as it may seem, aren’t that interested in your totem pole positioning within their echo chamber. Why not for once try being respectful to another human being possessing the same dignity and worth as you? If it doesn’t work, you did the right thing. But if it does …

… you too can exchange tweets with the Susan Slussers of this world.