In 2003, I wrote an editorial entitled, “Will Humanity Ever Visit The Media: A journalist speaks out on the attempts to castrate Michael Jackson.” As most editorials go, it was borne out of frustration, anger, and the decision to take a stand on something I believed in.
Additionally, the Martin Bashir interview had just aired.
I knew that as a journalist it was a risky move to make; reprimanding the media itself – which I am a member of; and coming off as defending someone – hell, not just anyone, Michael Jackson of all people, when it was not popular to do so.
I didn’t give a shit, and did it anyway.
I remember being nervous as I pushed “send” – forwarding the article to a handful of colleagues to see what they thought, and a few publications, including the Los Angeles Times. And a few days later, as I followed up with them, the woman on the other end of the phone at the L.A. Times said, in a most nasty tone, “We wouldn’t print anything like this.”
Fortunately, Lee Bailey’s EURweb felt differently, and without even responding to my email, published it in short order.
Although I had been working as a journalist since the 70’s, and had written a multitude of articles, I had never really done anything like this before. Well, there was that time in 1993 when I had my own radio show and did an ‘Open Letter’ on the subject of Michael. But at this time, my real paycheck came from my work at a special needs school – which is where I had (foolishly) sent the email proposing the story. If you know anything about sending “personal” emails out (with an attachment, i.e. the story) from work you realize how risky a move that was. By the time I realized what I had done, it was too late.
At best, still reeling from the L.A. Times nasty response, you can imagine my shock when I came into work the next day and turned on my computer. There were literally HUNDREDS of emails with the title of my article in the subject line! And emails were still coming in. My eyeballs got as big as saucers, and, although I had my own office – the way I was looking around the room you would’ve thought people were watching me.
I was scared shit-less that the tech people would report me to my boss, or even worse, the president of the agency. They usually quickly usurped this kind of thing for fear of viruses. So how the hell did all these emails get through undetected?
I started to recognize some of the email addresses and hesitantly started clicking on them. I got emails from colleagues, professors, fans, teachers, parents – from all over the world. All supporting the article and my decision to write it.
I remember one student in Australia said his teacher had dedicated an entire class to talking about the article.
Feeling compelled to at least thank these strangers for taking the time to, not only read the editorial, but respond to me, I stole further time from my workday and started to answer some of the emails. But as you can imagine, it became overwhelming, so I actually had to write a Thank You article in the same publication that had so graciously put it out there: EURweb.
I, along with millions of others, miss Michael more than words can ever express. And although I never met Michael personally, or even spoke with him on the phone, I do consider myself among the luckiest people. Because of my family’s connection to him, he personally invited us to celebrate two birthdays at his homes in Encino (where I played scrabble with Mrs. Jackson) and at Neverland; where we watched movies, ate popcorn and all the candy one could want.
I even remember a staff member at Neverland drove my little Volkswagen Cabriolet, at the time, “across the pond” to an actual 76 Station WHICH WAS ON THE PROPERTY, and filled up my tank FOR FREE.
On this day, June 25, 2014, I publicly show my love, respect, and gratitude to one Michael Joseph Jackson, for giving his all to his craft, in spite of the sacrifices.
Click on the link to read the article, “Will Humanity Ever Visit The Media.”
–This article was written by DeBorah B. Pryor