Tag Archives: tv news

A Sanitized Version Of TV News

Question for all the journos out there:  Is it okay to sanitize broadcast news?   Does this bother you,  or is it just me?

When does editing cross over into censorship?

Yesterday one of the tv news shows here in the Baltimore area sanitized not one but two stories, all in the same hour.   It was not the Sinclair station, nor was it Fox.  It was one of the “big-3” network affiliates.

First, they did the story on the apparent suicide of Kate Spade, without including the information that she apparently hanged herself with a scarf tied to a doorknob.

Then, they did the story about the Mayor of Philadelphia responding to the President disinviting the Philadelphia Eagles to a celebration at the White House, without including the Mayor’s most biting criticism of the President..   The statement from the Mayor the tv news show opted not to include was, “…our president is not a true patriot, but a fragile egomaniac obsessed with crowd size and afraid of the embarrassment of throwing a party to which no one wants to attend.”

It’s difficult for me to understand how someone commits suicide by tying a scarf to a doorknob.   So maybe it wasn’t suicide?  So maybe that should have been included in the story?  Also, the Mayor’s comments about President Trump, are kind of essential to doing a complete story on what the Mayor had to say, right?   This wasn’t some unknown man on the street interview, it was the Mayor of one of the biggest cities in America.

I knew both these stories had been “sanitized” (not just edited, but censored) because I read newspapers.   Many people do not, so they don’t have the advantage of staying properly informed.   Well, they have the advantage, but they choose not to use it, which makes the job the broadcast outlets are doing all the more critical.

Is it just me, or is something very basically wrong going on here?   Isn’t our job to find out what the hell is going on,  you know, the famous “5-W’s,” and then tell our viewers about it, warts and all?

 

Needed: A Little More Experience And A Little Less Snappy Banter

CNN’s media maven,  Brian Stelter, has suggested that the public needs to be skeptical of both the President and the media’s coverage of the President.   The house is on fire, and he wants to conduct an academic argument about which way to point the hose.

John Berman and Poppy Harlow are sitting there taking it all in, treating the 31 year old Stelter as though he’s some great sage, even though he hadn’t been born when the Watergate hearings took place.   He would have been nine  during the Monica Lewinsky scandal.   Give me a break.

The press and the intelligence community may be the only bodies standing between the nation and fascism.   The press needs all the support it can get right now to deal with the Administration’s lies and constant deflection of the issues.   The legitimate press is under attack.  Stelter, and others of his generation, may not have been around long enough to understand what’s really going on.   They don’t have the advantage of having lived through the Nixon years and more.  Bill Carter, was there when Nixon and Agnew tried to pin it all on the “nattering nabobs of negativism” in the press.  He remembers Cronkite going to Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers and Dan Ellsberg.  He knows better.   He was on the show and he should have said something.   A media critic himself, perhaps he felt constrained against speaking out against a colleague.   Perhaps it would have impacted his tenure with CNN.   Or maybe they just ran out of time.

Stelter, needs to sort out the mainstream “real” media covering the White House from all the rest of what has become an explosion of media outlets, particularly those interested in taking sides politically or going for entertainment value.  No one is infallible.  Everyone is capable of making a mistake.   But I trust the New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, CBS News and a few other outlets to give me an objective and fair version of what’s going on.

There remains no substitute for experience.  No amount of book learning, no number of  hours sitting in a classroom listening to someone tell you how something is done, or how it feels when it’s done to you.  Too many younger people with too little experience moving up the tv news food chain way too fast is part of the reason television news has lost so much of its credibility, something the networks are now in a position to recover from, if they fully resume their proper role of national watchdog.

To do that, they need to bring back a few more less beautiful but more experienced folks, like Carl Bernstein.   Some of the younger reporters out there are excellent.  I admire the hell out of the job they’re doing, but there remains no substitute for experience. Right now we need both, the vigor of youth and the power of experience, in an industry that’s obsessed with an advertiser-driven focus on selling products to younger market.

The consequences for a nation which increasingly can’t differentiate between valid and “fake” news are too severe for anyone to think otherwise.