As a part of my job at the Victoria Advocate, I am on the editorial board, where I, among others, write bimonthly editorials which become the voice of the paper. This editorial originally appeared in the Nov. 18, 2015 edition of the Victoria Advocate. Photo found here.
Since the beginning of recorded history, humanity has reveled in the misfortunes of other people. It’s why physical comedy is so popular – we like laughing at other people’s pain. It makes us feel good, makes us feel like we’re better than what we’re seeing on screen. It’s why everyone recognizes the Three Stooges; it’s why we might laugh when a friend bumps their head; it’s why “Judge Judy” is still in syndication.
This form of schadenfreude is even biblical – the Pharisees were famous for their “Well at least I’m not as bad as those people” mentality; the climax of the Book of Jonah occurs when Jonah becomes angry at God for not destroying the city of Nineveh, because of its great wickedness, so on and so forth, you get the idea.
All that to say, it’s safe to assume we do get preoccupied with the shortcomings of others.
Victoria is no exception.
Last week, the Advocate ran a story about two Victoria sisters who appeared on “Judge Judy.” One sister, Andrea Vasquez, sued her older sister, Anita, for having her falsely arrested for theft after Anita claimed Andrea stole property from her house while she was gone on a trip to Bali. In response, Anita countersued Andrea for “reporting her to the police numerous times on a variety of unrelated accusations.”
The original case was filed here in Victoria and was selected by the “Judge Judy” producers for an episode of the show. The case, which aired 11 a.m. Nov. 9 on Fox, ended with Judge Judy finding Anita has reasonable cause to think Andrea broke into her house, and that was the end of the matter.
We at the Advocate reported this story because … well, come on, it’s not every day two sisters from your city appear on a nationally syndicated TV show.
Our response in coverage would’ve been the same if the two sisters appeared on “The Voice,” “Amazing Race,” “American Idol” or “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” In fact, we have covered residents going on game shows in the past – see our July coverage of a Goliad native appearing on “Naked and Afraid.”
To not cover this would mean we ignored something happening in our community, which is the last thing we want to do.
If something happens in our coverage area, whether good or bad, it is our duty to report it. Our job is to document the world we live in. It doesn’t matter if that world includes stories about highlighting the passionate local residents and what they are doing to combat child abuse or two sisters appearing in court on national television. Our slogan is “From Here. For Here.” You get to decide what the “For Here” part means.
The “Judge Judy” story struck a nerve with readers because not only was it interesting, it also allowed readers to feel better about themselves.
For every Facebook comment about how the “Judge Judy “story “isn’t news” and how we shouldn’t have covered it, there were 10 holier-than-thou comments condemning the sisters for their choices.
As of this writing, the “Judge Judy” story is November’s second-most viewed story on our website with nearly 15,000 page views.
So, dear reader, whether or not you think this story is “news,” you probably clicked on it, and maybe even commented on it.
You can blame “the media” all you want, but the truth is, you decide what news to consume. We print a variety of news, from celebrity entertainment to local business news to sports because we have an array of news consumers. It’s up to you to choose what you want to read.
This opinion reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate’s editorial board.