How WCCO Covers a South St. Paul Fire

Last night two children and their father died as the result of a fire at their South St. Paul home.  The mother had been away working the second shift at a Bloomington packaging company.  She came home to find the tragedy.  It is a very sad story.

Of course it is very newsworthy, too.  However, I don’t like the way WCCO-TV reported this story tonight.  They focused on the surviving wife and mother and it felt wrong.  Clearly the woman is distraught, but WCCO rolls the cameras anyway and puts the sobbing woman through an interview.  At one point the reporter, Angela Davis, responds to an answer the crying woman gives telling her “You didn’t do anything wrong.”

No, the grieving woman did not do anything wrong, but WCCO did.  In this case, journalist Angela Davis is literally coaching her subject.  One might presume that Angela Davis suspects that the answers she is getting from her subject are irrational.  If that’s the case — especially in the case of a tragedy like this — does a reporter keep the microphone in the suffering woman’s face?  WCCO did.

Generally, I am growing tired of the way WCCO covers news overall.  The evening news is a mix of lifestyle stories and gimmicks sprinkled with a few serious headlines.  Of course, WCCO isn’t alone, not by a long shot, and it certainly isn’t the worst.  WCCO maintains a degree of decorum in their journalistic entertainment.  Nonetheless serious news isn’t really available from traditional media sources anymore.  And when serious stories do get reported, too often they get twisted by the pursuit of melodrama and entertainment.

Check the link to this story.  Of course you will have to suffer a minute long “Winner’s Minute” segment about love and marriage before getting to the “news” story, but that’s journalism today.  Take a look.

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