Friday, September 23, 2005

Reporters Have No Opinions?

In the comments to this post, where I was asking what happened to Darrell Phillip's blog (And still no answer! C'mon people.) a commenter said:
His blog was bull. Full of opinions. If you are a reporter, your opinions are NOBODY'S BUSINESS....

And they're too busy working on news, rather than blathering in blogs.
So, reading around today, I ran across this blog entry from INDC Journal about an April 2004 anti-war protest. He walked around documenting things, including a local NBC reporter talking with a pro-Iraqi war Iraqi:
This local NBC reporter literally shoved the LaRouchie out of the way and started asking questions. When the Iraqi told her what he thought of the occupation, saying that "everything is fine, everyone has food, there are 200 newspapers when there were once only two" she knitted her eyebrows and gave him a blatant, condescending smirk (not in this photo).

At the end of the interview she asked him for the spelling of his name, and when he was reluctant to give it to her, she haughtily explained that she needed to say it correctly when she filed her report. I guess it escaped her that his background might make him hesitant to feel comfortable giving out that kind of information.

After she was done with the interview, she began laughing with her cameraman at the Iraqi's expense.

I walked over to her and asked, "Why were you laughing at that guy while he was answering your question?"

"I didn't (laughs again). I'm a journalist. I don't have opinions."
This is why I like blogging reporters. Or reporters who make their biases clear, if they have them. Because then I don't have to automatically distrust every dip with a mike and cameraman.

Next time you see coverage of a local event, watch the framing. If the event is small, or badly attended, you'll see the camera gets close to the people who are there. No overhead or distance shots that show clearly how small the attendance is. Lots of tight shots or framing that doesn't show the empty spaces around the people. Lots of closeups of speakers from in front of the podium. I've noticed it for a while now, especially in reporting on local anti-war activities.

I remember one anti-war "protest" about a year or so ago where maybe a dozen folks showed up on a Saturday. You could see the cameraman had worked really, really hard to not make the "protest" turnout look as pathetic as it was. Same for the Sharpton rally this summer over the park renaming issue.

Showing sympathy for hapless or unlucky protest organisers? Isn't that allowing emotion to cloud judgment? Or is it sympathy for the issue (ie. bias)? Or is it that the stations don't want calls from angry issue supporters who harangue them for what they perceive as unflattering coverage?

Who knows? In Memphis Maniac's world, the press doesn't have opinions to explain it to us....

No comments: