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Writing for Sheila
AuthorHarrison, Auburn Marie
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Abstract: This thesis is a personal memoir of the ten years I spent working as a television journalist in both military and commercial TV stations. Through a chronological retelling of my past experiences, the book not only uncovers the behind the scenes reality of a largely misunderstood business, but also unveils some of the unethical, immoral and surprising practices of broadcast news stations and newsrooms. The memoir is particularly concerned with my awakening as a journalist, and how I came to understand and appreciate an imaginary woman named "Sheila." During much of my tenure as a TV journalist, I was instructed to write for an ideal viewer who was supposedly an uneducated, uninformed, middle-aged, white mother. I was encouraged to feed "Sheila" shallow news content about things she could easily comprehend, instead of challenging her to think for herself by simply reporting newsworthy and relevant facts. My book forcuses on "Sheila" and how her metaphorical presence in my life helped shape both the content of the news I generated, as well as my own life choices. I will also reflect on how my new role as a mother and a graduate student helped me come to the realization that the "Sheilas" of the world are much more smart, capable and worthy than journalists are giving her credit for.