The Gross National Debt

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The arrogance of journalism

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I heard a news report on Public Radio not long ago in which the station refused to broadcast one side of the story.

Refused. Said no. The other side of the story was willing to be interviewed and willing to present this other side. The station said no.

This is not unusual. It's actually common.

Hearing the other side of the story, in this case, was important I felt.

So why did the radio refuse to let the other side have a say?

Arrogance. Pure, simple, unbridled arrogance. This is not confined to broadcast media either.

The additional information you don't have but need:  The other side agreed to speak but only if his comments were presented exactly as he gave them, in full and unedited.

To me, that sounds fair. As a journalist and newspaper editor, I frequently let people have their say, everything they want to say, unedited and uncut - excepting I remove profanity and libelous items. You can point to letters to the editor (the electronic version being something most broadcast outlets refuse to allow) as an example of this and you are correct.

But I also do it in news stories. On very important issues and controversial issues, I will reprint entire transcriptions. I feel it is important enough for my audience to get the entire story right from the person who said it, without interference by me.

In this blog, I allow unfettered commentary the vast majority of the time. I moderated comments a while back when some idiot began posting to every blog about commercial hog farms. Same post. Every time. I was willing to let Mssr. Idiot have his say, but not the same exact words over and over and over and over.

Attack journalism at its finest.
At the same time, editing is important. Make no mistake, editing is sometimes vital. It keeps journalists out of court. See libel above.

Sometimes editing is needed. A good editing condenses the material without losing anything important. A good editing explains something more clearly than the source did.

Sometimes editing is interfering. If it is that important to the person doing the speaking or writing, I say let the person have their say and let it go.

Broadcast journalists refuse to do this by and large. If this is not arrogance, I do not know what is.

Because of this attitude there are very few broadcast outlets to which I will agree to an interview.

I have been interviewed by TV reporters many times. With a sole exception being Channel 51 in Cordele, more than 90 percent of the times I've been interviewed, the reporter took my comments and distorted them and wound up giving out factually wrong information. Channel 51 has never done this to me.

My ire with one station in particular reached such a boiling point that the station management banned me from being on TV. Yep. I am BANNED from appearing on one S. Georgia TV station's broadcasts.

I consider that to be a signal distinction and one of the highest honors I have ever been afforded.

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