Monday, January 22, 2007

Journalism 101-1/2

I took a couple of journalism courses at Fullerton Junior College long enough ago that you can actually see the difference in the government school dumbing down process from then to now. The first rule that was taught, in the reporting of a story, is to find out and include the who, what, where, when and why. I assume that's still the case.

Leaving aside all the allegations of spin and bias, and just sticking to the straight reporting of the story as it exists, I still find many things lacking in many news stories. Case in point: A recent LA local CBS news story about a woman who called police, having been shot. Police found the woman wounded and a man dead inside the store, both shot.

We aren't told the woman's condition. We aren't told who shot whom, whether it was a robbery in which one of these individuals was robbing the store and was shot by the storekeeper, who was shot simultaneously. There was conjecture that it was an attempted murder-suicide, but no indication of a relationship between the two. No names. Only a very sketchy police statement with little useful information.

At FJC, in the journalism class I attended, the story would get a failing grade and a lecture about stayng on the story until you have the facts. It wouldn't have been a pleasant lecture to have to endure. Shame on CBS2-LA and its reporter for a shoddy job of reporting.

Somehow, most of today's working news reporters, seem to be content to go to the press conference, listen to the speeches, get in a question or two and take the handout. The story is written from that, and only from that. What the politician, his hack, or the police spokesman says becomes the whole of the story.

The romantic in me recalls the stories of fast-talking reporters who interview witnesses, politicians, who finds a way to interview the principals involved, and who finds a way to remove the spin and find the truth. If the politician lies (now, who'd believe that's possible!), if the police are covering something up, or if a criminal is hiding something, the good reporter will find a way to ferret the truth out.

Today's news reporters are at worst, bought and paid for and at best, slackers.

Brenda Starr, where are you?

Warm regards,
Col. Hogan

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