“F--k It, I Quit.”
It’s too easy to overlook the greater importance of former KTVA reporter, Charlo Greene’s remarkable on-air resignation by focussing on her choice of language. The issue has been clouded further still by her smoking a joint on air in a subsequent interview with HuffPost Live. But there is another message. Greene’s action alludes to the disproportionate media coverage leading up to the Ballot Measure Number 2 to legalize marijuana. Extrapolating on this event in Alaska, Greene has exposed the media’s broad response to marijuana across North America. The drawbacks of marijuana use are being reported largely without balancing the discussion with the overwhelming evidence of marijuana’s benefits to the medical field and to the economy.
Following the on-air resignation, KTVA issued an apology where their news director stated: Greene "betrayed the basic bedrock of responsible journalism.” The reason behind this accusation was that she reported on a business she herself owned, the Alaska Cannabis Club. Greene did not deny the accusations that she acted unethically, adding that "I have a journalism degree. I know in journalism there's a line that you're not supposed to cross… but if I had gone to my boss and said, 'Hey, I bought this company,' I would have been fired, period. I wasn't ready for that to happen.”
Instead of quietly leaving her job she used her position as a news anchor to leverage media attention towards what she felt to be a one-sided discussion of marijuana legalization.
Greene’s bold actions were driven by what she describes as a "responsibility to the community" (her words). Greene quit her job to offer a dissenting voice on Alaska's "Vote No On 2" campaign. The particular campaign sought to defeat a ballot measure to legalize marijuana, and Greene’s objective was to ensure that "their fear-mongering wasn't going to be broadcast as fact.” The situation in Alaska could easily be used as a lens by which to view the rest of North America now in active debate over changes to their marijuana laws.
The point was missed by KTVA and potentially some viewers. Allow me to reiterate Greene’s point because it does bear repeating: she said, (and I’m paraphrasing here), if everyone is upset about my 'breach of trust,' and me crossing that line, then how about you get upset about the fact that journalists in 2014 just go off and say whatever comments they want on air without vetting them.
Greene’s main point of contention was the rhetoric surrounding state legalized marijuana which implied that kids would start using, despite the stats released by Colorado that indicate teenage usage rates are actually falling. Colorado being one the early states to legalize and regulate medical and recreational marijuana for anyone over the age of 21 in the privacy of their own home.
If Greene is correct about the media’s distorted reporting on the facts of the issue, then it becomes even more important that the good, working professionals that use marijuana medically, or recreationally, across Canada come out in support of progressive marijuana law reform at home.