I am not a fan of broadcast news – I prefer my information bundled up in a newspaper or from a reliable print news source available online (Associated Press, for example). Broadcast news, to me, is nothing but sensationalization of the facts. To make matters worse, oftentimes they “steal” their news by simply creating a more sympathetic version of a straight news story already reported by a newspaper in the same region.
At the end of July, I wrote an article titled Monument’s future worries Marine’s family about this local family who, nearly 25 years ago, purchased a granite monument honoring their son and fellow North Carolina Marines killed in an attack on Beirut. This memorial currently sits in a park on Main Street that is undergoing massive renovations, part of which include relocating the marker to the town’s War Memorial as part of a Serenity Garden. Unfortunately for the family, these plans were not discussed prior to the decision and they do not want the memorial moved. That’s the crux of my story, dated July 30, for those who don’t click the above link (although you should totally check it out!).
Yesterday, as I drove through downtown, I noticed a television news van parked near the memorial – which has clearly not been relocated just yet – and I knew that’s what they were compiling a story about. And there you have it, reported late afternoon Aug. 5, Family Protests Plans to Move Mooresville War Memorial from one of the several broadcast news stations out of Charlotte.
And while I completely understand the family’s desire to keep this monument in its current spot, I can safely assume they contacted all local media outlets about this potential relocation when they originally spoke to my editor mid-July. Did WSOC-TV decide it wasn’t a worthwhile story until perhaps reading my story when printed last week in the Mooresville Tribune? Or perhaps Saturday when my story was reprinted in our sister paper, the Statesville Record & Landmark? “Well, if they ran it twice, it might be a big deal.”
Though, that is not the primary source of my agitation. My aggravation arises over how completely sensationalized their story is: “Dot McNeely gently rubbed her son’s picture as her daughter talked about their struggle to keep a memorial for their loved one right where it is, in the middle of Mooresville.” Yes, this is the written version as I did not watch the broadcast and I’m simply not in the mood to watch it through their Web site. But I doubt the two pieces stray far from one another.
The news station does present the other side, in a brief sentence or two at the end of the article, but clearly sways its audience one direction – the sympathetic direction of the family. The reasoning behind moving the monument and the hopes for its new location are absent from the broadcast piece, which doesn’t give the reader/viewer any balanced information about the problem at hand … and in my eyes, that’s unfortunate.
I have no plans – immediate or future – to become a broadcast reporter. I think they so often hide behind their cameras, telling the viewer what they want to hear even if it means not reporting the entire truth. And don’t even get me started about their perpetual use of “as was reported here first” even in situations where a print news outlet truly published the materials beforehand.
I prefer to stay in the field of print news where I can remain reasonably anonymous and I don’t have to place a phony smile on my face each evening as I spout half-truths to the awaiting public.
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