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Life in the spotlight not easy

There are many jobs in the world that look like they'd be a lot of fun. Who wouldn't want to be a star or on TV or a person of power. And while there are certainly fun aspects of those jobs, there are also drawbacks.

I, for one, am certainly far from famous. But being on TV does come with a certain amount of public recognition. I have been lucky that my experience has been largely positive. For the most part I encounter the occasional, "Hey! It's you!" in the grocery store or at church. Folks are typically friendly and share a kind word or an expression of gratitude or admiration.

But there are also the negative reactions. I've found most people won't say them in the grocery store, but they sure aren't afraid to call or e-mail. Just a few weeks after I started at WWAY, a viewer decided she hated me and our new weekend meteorologist. She sent several e-mails to the station suggesting our boss get rid of us. Fortunately, he told the viewer the station was quite pleased with both of us. I laughed it off. The meteorologist, a few years less experienced that I, took it personally. Years later, though, we still laugh about the whole thing. And then there was the time a viewer called to say that whenever I say I like the cold, it has some terribly adverse effect on old people in Holden Beach. Seriously. But I've chosen a profession where thousands of people get to see and judge what I do each day. I have to accept not all the reaction will be positive or agreeable. That's the nature of the beast.

My point is that when you accept a life in the public, you must also accept the consequences.

I know that I must live my life somewhat more carefully that someone in a more private industry. And so goes the life of actors, athletes, politicians and so on. Yet too often, when their very public backs are up against the wall, many of those same folks suddenly think they should be allowed to go back to being private. But it doesn't work like that. I know if I screw up and publicly embarrass myself, I have no one to blame but myself if I screw up. It is a constant fear, especially now that I'm married and have a child. But I try to live my life in a way that hopefully (knock on wood) will keep me out of such self-imposed destruction.

Say what you will about Rep. Anthony Weiner, but the guy, after lying for a week, finally fessed up on (inter)national television and admitted that he's made some very serious mistakes. They are the kind of mistakes many people would call creepy or even profane. He says he won't resign from Congress. Regardless, his career will likely never be the same, and he will long be the butt of jokes. But to his credit, he seems willing to accept that consequence of his very public transgressions.

Locally, we have several current and former elected leaders facing issues of their own. I don't need to rehash the stories. I think we all know them. But in some cases, their supporters have said we should leave their private life alone. Really? These people were elected to make big decisions that affect your life and mine. Should their inability to control their own life not factor in to how we view their ability to lead?

Of course, we must always remember, when we're dealing with criminal matters, that as Americans we are all innocent until proven guilty. In a recent, high-profile arrest, I said just today that I am all but certain the accused will be acquitted. In fact, I'm not sure the arrest should have happened in the first place. Nevertheless, something led police to believe criminal charges were warranted. Maybe it was a misunderstanding. Maybe it was a situation that got blown out of proportion when the cops got there. Whatever it was, it happened.

What I've learned in my somewhat public life is that it's all about maintaining a level of personal decorum and keeping the right company to keep yourself out of a situation where such an accusation is even possible. When I look back at some of the things I did when I was younger, all I can think is the old saying "There but for the grace of God go I."

The bottom line, though, is that when things go bad and you're a public person, well, then don't be surprised when it makes headlines. And don't be surprised when the media and the public want to know more. And don't be surprised when they start digging.

When you're a public person, there are a lot of good things that go along with it. There are also some bad things. If you're not careful, it's very easy for the bad to start to outweigh the good. But it's all what you make of it.

By: Kevin Wuzzardo


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