Holtz-intern video all too familiar

Published 10:36 pm Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The awesome — and horrifying, and hilarious, and shocking — thing about videos is that they can sometimes come back to haunt you. The advent of YouTube and other social networking sites makes this likelihood even greater.

katieBut, if you’re lucky, it can make you famous. Or at least, pseudo-famous. There are way too many examples to list about regular joes who experience brief brushes with fame thanks to the Internet. Or, on the negative side, the athletes, politicians and celebrities whose videos are leaked to millions of viewers online.

In an odd coincidence last week, my cousin Christin Wilson became one of those accidentally famous people.

Christin, who is a year older than me and also grew up in South Dakota, was an intern nearly a decade ago at a news station in Charleston, S.C.

As a sports intern, her job was to interview Lou Holtz, the famous former Notre Dame football coach and well-known local celebrity.

If you’ve seen the video online, Holtz essentially rips into Christin because their interview would occur later than planned and continues his tirade of insults and grumblings until the young intern breaks into sobs.

A former co-worker of Christin’s released this gem online, and it’s experienced thousands of views since.

I knew and still know little about Holtz other than he is a famous coach of the Fighting Irish, and also, apparently, sometimes a jackass.

But the video also made me chuckle because, unbeknownst to most fledgling journalists in the field, you will run into way more jackasses than you planned for.

You will meet presidents, professional athletes, rock stars, criminals … but the jerks are not the ones you are trained for. They don’t give you lessons in that at J-school. In fact, the world of journalism can almost seem glamourous when you are a student.

I told one of my professors I was seeking an internship, and she suggested National Geographic or the Washington Post. She was a Vietnam War reporter and book author with a degree from Columbia University, the best journalism school in the country. I was enrolled at a small liberal arts college in Minnesota.

When I began my newspaper career, I was shocked at how straight-forward some people were with their criticism. Not clarifications, or polite corrections, but outright insults, yelling and threats. I interviewed one lunatic who I believe was secretly videotaping me and literally ran me out of his apartment. I got one threat from a guy who said he was going to “come get” a reporter, and we had to lock down the building.

But for my cousin, she ended up getting the last laugh. She is now a successful executive producer at a large TV station in Minneapolis-St. Paul. Holtz just looks like a curmudgeon with a chip on his shoulder.

But like the world keeps turning, the news doesn’t stop either. And until it does, the Lou Holtzes of the world will continue to entertain us.

Katie Rohman is the managing editor of the Niles Daily Star, Off the Water, Cassopolis Vigilant and Edwardsburg Argus. She can be reached at (269) 687-7713 or at katie.rohman@leaderpub.com.