Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Stop it Journalists!

According to a report on ABC News’ website:
The 44-year-old jail teacher arrested in connection with the escape of three maximum-security inmates at a California lockup will be released today, Orange County Prosecutor Tony Rackauckas said in a news conference.
“At this time, there is insufficient evidence to charge her with any crime," Rackauckas said of Nooshafarin Ravaghi.

She's being released on her own recognizance, although required to turn in her passport until the investigation is complete, officials said.

While the story isn’t getting much play in the news aggregators, it did show up on Newsy this morning. The Newsy footage shows Ravaghi leaving the jail, accompanied by a middle aged male who seems to be her lawyer. The pair decline to make any statements. As they walk to the car Ravaghi is surrounded by reporters and camera operators (all walking backward). We hear one particularly annoying reporter, who is sticking a microphone just below Ravaghi’s face, asking the obvious question. “Did you do it?”

Please. What kind of idiot do you think this teacher is? The Sheriff has been unable to find evidence that actually links her to the escape of three inmates. She has denied any involvement. Do you really think that she is going to announce her complicity to you while she’s making the “Reverse Perp Walk?” Get serious and do real journalism. Stop harassing people! It is this kind of TMZ catcall journalism that brings the profession into low reputed with the public.

We saw the same sort of nonsense when the reporters invaded the apartment of the San Bernadino shooters – after police had taken all the evidence from the apartment. That was one of the low points in contemporary American journalism. The reporters became a flock of vultures picking the bones of the dead couple. What did the public learn about Sayied Farook and Tashfeen Malik? Almost nothing. We saw that they led a normal life, and that was about it. But what did we expect to find? Walls plaster with “Death to America” slogans? An “Imam of the month” calendar? Babes in Burkas, the book? Why should the apartment have betrayed any of the things that the American rightwing expects to see in a “terrorist’s” apartment?

In both cases any media critic should be asking “Why?” or better still, “WTF?”

Part of the answer is the hunger of the 24 hour news cycle. You’ve got to fill the screen. Part of the answer is the drive for conflict. Conflict is the top news value – at least according the most journalism textbooks. You’ve got to get the story, the scoop, the confession. And if you have to get it by less than savory means, well that’s just the price you have to pay. Part of it is the TMZ effect.

I know this is not new. You see some of the same barbaric behavior in Ben Hecht’s The Front Page. But that was 1928. Surely we’ve advanced as news gatherers since then. Even if we haven’t advanced beyond whatever it takes to get the scoop, at least we should be able to do it without being AD’s*

1 comment:

DebraDownSth@gmail.com said...

Sadly, the demise of real newspapers had led to an increase in instant high hits. And they will use anything they can to get the attention. We agree, professionalism has been lost. I find myself limiting sources to cut down on some on the nonsense.