When KTLA TV News in Los Angeles discovered itself in the uncomfortable position of covering a vigil when the crowd turned its anger on the media, the station made that the foal point of its story. Was this necessary? Or hype? Is the main story that there was a shooting followed by an autopsy followed by a predominantly peaceful vigil, or was the story that a single loud-mouth protestor took objection to the cameras?
See for yourself. KTLA News opted to lead with the ‘threats’ in its anchor lead, its reporter’s on camera toss, and in the opening sequence of the video itself. A trifecta of self-indulgent ‘we are the the story.’
Only then – after that non-event was exhausted – did the story go on to cover what was a peaceful expression of the community’s sadness.

Maybe at worst this is poor judgment and self indulgent – the consequence of emotion running rampant over judicious news judgment. But – where were the elders of the news department? Where were those with more experience to know that the real story was not about the media, and never was, nor should it ever be. As witnesses to an event we are not supposed to become as important as the event itself. And when, for instance, does a stupid person’s threat become more important than the event itself?

The station may counter that the community’s rage was a part of the story… really? One loud-mouthed person now represents the entire community? It just seems lame to suggest that even as a supposed defense for poor news judgment. Just saying.

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When networks say they are “monitoring” international news there is a significant difference from the era when they covered it.

Monitoring means saving money and human resources by remaining in London and piggybacking on all other international news sources.  Monitoring means reading the wires – AP, AFP, Reuters among others, and aggregating as many mutually agreed facts as possible while ‘packaging’ that information in to unilateral reporting.  What’s worse is then the reporter says, “We have learned…” Oh yes?  Learned from who?

Reporting and coverage once meant doing one’s own work – asking questions – using one’s 5 senses – following leads and owning the story as best one could.  Covering any story is about “learning more”… but now, as a verb, it is often a cheap substitute for real work.

Coverage meant something — it meant an investment of time, money, responsibility and staff.  Monitoring a story is the lazy approach to news gathering.  It is the way news is covered today.  It is the sad result of cost cutting for a product that many people don’t seem to value… the news.

While we profess to know more than ever before, and we do have greater access to timely news sources than ever before, US audiences receive fewer and fewer actual reports from network correspondents and more ‘monitored’ and ‘repackaged” news.  It just feels less and less honest.