Friday, August 3, 2012

Reporting by the Media

We look to the media to provide accuracy and honesty, hopefully with as much detail as possible. I am sure some stories told deserve way more time than given, but when you only have 10 or 15 minutes to deliver the day's high lights .. well, it is what it is, right?

With today's "plugged in world" (and do note kiddies, not everyone can afford to be plugged in or even wants to be plugged in), after we hear media stories we often jump on to the net to find out more. And what they say is true... not everything you read on the internet is factual or unbiased.

I happened to be taking a break from twitter today, came back in to discover a non-stop rant and rag over a story that CTV Edmonton did on a tweet by an Edmonton Police Service constable involved in a social media experiment (Linda Hoang article here).

To be honest, I am not sure what the real issue is here. Looking at the webcast of this story, there doesn't seem to be a willingness by the station to smear anyone... only an interest in letting you know what they are hearing.

Imagine if you were the News Director, and someone called in or sent a message of some form saying "Hey, did you guys see this? Isn't it a little weird for a cop to be showing something like that?". Maybe you look, maybe you don't. Maybe you start getting a few more calls, more posts, more emails, more tweets... so at some point you look. Its your job to do that.

I mean, there must have been some interest. The station spent the time to show the situation to several of those in the general public, and asked for a response. And people gave their opinions...

Whats the problem? Media have a responsibility to provide you with information. It's up to you to determine what, if anything, you want to do with that information.

For God's sake, don't beat the messenger!

Tonight in twitter (yes, it's Friday now, I'm still living Thursday) I tweeted about how people are so two faced. This does require more of an explanation, so here goes...

The ranting some people are doing on this topic is like... unreal. And THIS is such a trivial issue after all... Where were you, when important things that really mattered, needed to be talked about? Where was the huge outcry...

And no, I am not going to get into specifics about situations or people. Thousands of things pass by us each and every day in twitter. A fair number of those deal with injustices and really bad shit all over the world. ALL over the world. Quite a few of those also affect Canada or Alberta or Edmonton, and/or people we love and trust.

Things WAY more important than this story. So I ask again...

Where were you, when important things that really mattered, needed to be talked about? Where was the huge outcry...


  1. Hi, Gary;

    Although I agree with you on important issues all over the world, I do take issue with labelling what happened online as a result of CTV's news report on Constable Brendan Power's photo as "hypocrisy". As one of the loudest (and possibly most annoying) voices this evening, I'm grateful you've given us both something to ponder and a means to counter what you've presented.

    We live in a world, a society, a culture, wherein we are controlled by the media. As you are well aware, there has been a growing movement of citizens - both online and off - who take great issue with slanted media, one sided media, uninformed media, misinformed media. In fact, it's something you've made reference to yourself - the bias of our local media.

    What happened this evening was not just "a story" that people didn't like. Tonight's reaction online was the fallout CTV faced for running a story that was entirely out of context, and somewhat misinformed. At no point did CTV make it clear that Constable Power tweeted that pic AFTER his shift had ended. Instead, they chose to get comments from people on the street by presenting them with the photo and representing it as something he tweeted while he was on duty. The tweet itself clearly states he wasn't at the standoff when he tweeted it, and the standoff had ended peacefully, but CTV only showed that tweet briefly - choosing instead to fill the 2 minutes with out of context comments that did not reflect the true tweet or situation.

    Tweeting is an aspect of Cst. Power's job. It is fully supported by the EPS. Even though CTV had a statement from the EPS clearly stating that they stood behind Power and his tweeting of the photo, CTV chose to lead with this story as though there were some sort of controversy involved. In fact, CTV cannot even qualify why they run the story, other than to say "reaction was mixed". So - did they receive complaints, or did one of their reporters see the Constable's tweet and decided to CREATE a story? And then, as opposed to explaining exactly what Power does for the EPS on Twitter, his community outreach, his endless efforts at recruiting, CTV left the story without providing the viewer with a proper debriefing.

    As we see media in the states morph more and more into propaganda for whatever side of the aisle they've chosen to side with, we must fight that happening in Canada. We must stand as watchdogs to biased reporting and especially to "news" that is not news at all. Tonight's story was not news. It made no difference in our lives. It provided us with no information that is worthy of being on the 6pm news. It was a nothing bit of garbage produced for no other reason than to create buzz. It was wrong. And for some of us who want our media to be held to a code of honesty, it was unacceptable.

    I hope that explains the position some of us took this evening a little more clearly. All the best to you. I always enjoy reading your posts.

    1. From what I was told, you were the one that seemed to be upset by this and started a blog post about it that drove twitter nuts. Just saying what I heard, I was not around.

      I looked at the story. I saw people being interviewed, and I saw people making comments. And yes, one person did jump to the conclusion that it was a "live tweet". I have said I don't follow the police officer. I don't know if what he does is live or off shift or a part of being on shift. And I too made the mistake of thinking it was 'live tweeted'.

      Is this what upset you? That CTV didn't correct that person and tell them it wasn't live tweeted? Maybe they did, and that part of the interview was cut out. But even if they didn't... who cares, really... They were looking for public opinion, and displayed a balanced report showing a couple of people that thought it was wrong and a couple of people that thought it was okay.

  2. One more thing - the article by Linda Hoang that you've included here is NOT what people were upset about this evening - they were upset by a CTV report. Hoang's article is well written. CTV's report was non factual. Here is the link to the actual report that caused this evening's uproar:

    1. I never said Linda's article was what people were talking about, did I? I included a link to her article, that gave a simple explanation of the social media experiment EPS was doing. As far as your link, it's the same link as mine persay, just that mine is only the video. Your link shows the reporters text, which is essentially the same as the "spoken english" within the report.

      You say CTV's report was non factual. I honestly don't see where you get that from. They didn't rise up and smite the officer, they didn't give him hell... they reported a story.

      You of all people, who have been to the station, taken a tour, and have seen the massive amount of work that goes into it, should know that there isn't the time to air or report every little part of something.

      I still think too many people went overboard on this, driven by an uncalled for frenzy. With that said, again... I wasn't around. I don't know if other comments were made that egged the situation on. The fact remains, from looking at the story and looking at the text of the story, there was clearly zero intent to discredit the officer. I do NOT know if other media outlets reported it, so I am not sure where the officer got the impression the media was looking to smear him. In THIS particular story itself, they reported on a question that the public raised. And in all fairness these types of things ARE issues that the public has a right to question.

      Seems to me, this is what an experiment is all about.

    2. i saw the story, and have seen stories delivered by this reporter that is getting bashed before. It was fair, showed both sides of the concern and lack there of. I believe most of the rants are coming from friends and family of both the officer and the police force. A logical person would look at it like this, in the time he took the photo what if something transpired? what if in that stand off during the moment he decided to take that photo someones life depended on his complete focus? Im not a police officer nor have i been in the army but if i were holding a gun in a situation such as that, the last thing i would be doing is taking a photo. Bashing a reporter for doing a piece that covered both sides? Now whos biased? I dont normally agree with your blogs Gary or ever speak up but in this case you were right on the mark. Great job, and to the family and friends of this cop, we know you want to protect him but give your head a shake. Dont spend time bashing a good reporter who cant defend herself(i assume when backlash happens she is instructed to be silent). Maybe send a facebook message to your friend or family member and ask "what the hell were you thinking about?"

    3. You bring up a point I never thought of, which was "when" it was taken. And to be honest, you really can't tell that. One would hope it wasn't right he set up, or in the middle of the conflict. Maybe it was taken after the incident was over and he went back to "stage" where he was. I don't necessarily agree with the picture, but it was a "meh" moment. What bothers me is the uncalled for attack on a media outlet (and it doesn't matter to me who that outlet is) for doing it's job on a story that was balanced.

      I mean, if we are going to talk about unbalanced reporting, then we should all be in a full uproar with David Staples articles over the arena. Why the Edmonton Journal choose to keep him over Cam Tait... arg... I can only handle so much blood boiling in one day.

  3. I cancelled my cable 4 years ago as a direct result of CTV's "reporting". Having been personally involved in the "story" there was absolutely no way I was going to let a single cent of my money Make it's way back to local "news" outlets when I have the option of watching online for free and not supporting their business financially. I disagree that we are controlled by the media in our society, culture, country, etc... Those who allow themselves to be controlled by the media are, those of us Who don't give the media a chance to inundate us with stupidity are not. I know I miss out on very important stories like who will get custody of the Twilight star's pets, but I'm OK with that.

    1. You are entitled to your opinion. I'm sorry you missed out on the custody side but I'm sure you can find that on the net. Where there is 100% truth and 100% unbiased information.

  4. Thank you for your post Gary. I agree totally and purposefully stayed out of the whole thing because I didn't want to 'feed' it.

    I had no issue with the clip, although to be honest, I would never have seen it if it wasn't posted online as I don't watch CTV. I think the cries of a "smear" campaign were ridiculous. Absolutely nowhere in the clip did they speak in a derogatory way about the police officer.

    Much ado about nothing in my opinion.

    1. I think some people in twitter over reacted. And I think that the officer over reacted by his "smear" tweet. Heat of the moment response... welcome to real life. :)

  5. As we have discussed the media & fact-checking before, I must comment on this post. We cannot assume the media does their due-diligence because they don't. CTV, Global, CBC & CityTV are all guilty of this. It took one tenacious print media reporter to expose the truth, yet no one reported that they choose to use a "self-proclaimed security expert" as a media commentator on air without vetting a fictitious CV, I, personally don't trust any of them anymore. Anything for a story, ANYTHING.

    1. I do agree to a point, especially more so with the TV side of the media, that we don't get all of the facts. Forty years ago, there was an hour of TV news for maybe 400,000 people. Today there is an hour of news for millions of people.

      In the past, people were closer, spent more time thinking about issues. Today, people seem to demand instant results. So, what's changed? More people by default will create more criminals available, the potential of more bad things happening that need (?) reporting on. In the same 60 minutes... What else has changed? The economy... You can thank the CRTC for selling out to the cable companies, which now literally own all of the media in Canada.

      Their was a time they were independent... made money from advertising, allowed to control their own destiny. Until the big rich folks decided to not pay the local media for distributing their signals.

      Now see, there is something people should be talking about. But don't. Because the rich have for decades, been carefully crafting their art of leading sheep... er, I mean people.