Sunday, July 13, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

A Bully Or A Jerk?

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A Bully Or A Jerk?

Only at the Daily News would I be able to engage in a lively discussion with a co-worker over the differences between a bully and an a**hole (his word, not mine). The conversation was prompted after I submitted my column today's column and an editor said he disagreed with my characterization of Jennifer Livingston's antagonist as a "bully."

To recap, Jennifer Livingston is the overweight TV news anchor who received an email from a viewer who critiqued her size and said she made for a poor role model. Livingston's on-air comeback was a pitch-perfect plea for tolerance, kindness and understanding, and it has gotten almsot 9.7 million hits, and counting.

My editor disagreed that the viewer bullied Livingston.

"Being an a--hole doesn't make you a bully," said the editor, whose exacting approach to word choice helps make our paper great.

I've been thinking it over (how much do I love a job that requires I mull such nuances?). And I think my editor is right.  I think all bullies are jerks (my more delicate word choice), but not all jerks are bullies. In Livingston's case, I think the man who gratuitously slammed her didn't bully her.

But, man, what a jerk.

What do you think?

Ronnie Polaneczky Daily News Columnist
About this blog

When my phone rings here at the Daily News, nine times out of ten the caller begins the conversation with, “Yeah, so what happened was…”.

Because this is Philly, the caller doesn’t say, “My name is Bob” – or Mary – “and I wonder if I could have a moment of your time?” Philadelphians are too direct for that. They just say, “Yeah, so what happened was…”, and then tumble into a tale they think oughta be shared with a wider audience. I love getting these calls (even the ones where it becomes clear, after 30 seconds, where the caller sowed the seeds of his own misery), because they give me chance to connect with fellow citizens in a way that no other job allows. Well, okay, no other job for which I’m remotely qualified.

That’s why my blog is titled “So What Happened Was…”. To me, it’s the quintessentially Philly way of saying, “Once upon a time.” When I hear it, I know a good story is coming. And I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

Ronnie Polaneczky has been an award-winning columnist for The Philadelphia Daily News since 1999, offering a front-steps perspective on every aspect of city life, from the sublime to the stupid. In her past life, she was the editor-in-chief of Atlantic City Magazine, associate editor at Philadelphia Magazine and a fulltime freelancer published in Ladies Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, Redbook, Reader's Digest, Men's Health, MarieClaire and others. She lives with her husband, daughter and various pets in the city's Fairmount section, where she dreams of one day singing The National Anthem at an Eagles game. In addition to her column and blog, you can enjoy Ronnie's musings in podcast form here.


Read more from Ronnie Polaneczky at Earth to Philly, the Daily News blog on anything and everything "Green Reach Ronnie at polaner@phillynews.com.

Ronnie Polaneczky Daily News Columnist
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