Thursday, November 5, 2009

Journalism and rock and roll

Thursday morning I arrived at Idaho Falls City Hall for a scheduled meeting with newly re-elected Mayor Jared Furhiman when I ran into a loose gathering of 20 or so young people with painted faces who were protesting the cancellation of a hip-hop concert.

I stopped and talked to some of them for a moment and we exchanged ideas on musical tastes. The music I listened to when I was their age (and, which, I admit, I still listen to) was considered outrageous for its time – Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper. To these young folks, those are just groups their parents listen to.

It’s not exactly clear why the concert featuring Insane Clown Posse was canceled, but certainly part of the reason was a visceral uneasiness among some adults in eastern Idaho. To his credit, Mayor Fuhriman met with a representative of the protesters, who came away feeling like she’d had a fair hearing. I called our newsroom to alert them to the protest and went inside to my meeting.

My time with the mayor was brief – I just introduced him to an acquaintance who had a proposal for the city – and I went back outside. There, a Post Register photographer and reporter were covering the event as they do – taking pictures and asking questions. Also present was a young TV journalist, but she was a little more proactive, suggesting to the young people that they should perhaps parade up and down the sidewalk and otherwise provide more provocative video.

In the larger scheme of things, this is a minor offense – in some small way inserting oneself into a news story. It won’t change the world. Of more interest to me was the fact that this young journalist seemed to think that this is how these things are done – do what it takes to get some good stuff to take back to the newsroom.

Once again, this is another example of the evolution of news coverage during the Age of Entertainment. It’s a pretty trivial example at that, but it’s one I observed personally. The fact that little thought was given to whether the journalist should attempt to direct events at the scene indicates that this may very well be how young television journalists are trained. Not to draw too broad a conclusion, but it’s at least concerning that this appears to be accepted practice among some schools of journalism and television newsrooms.

This is not an attempt to place print journalism above our brothers and sisters in other media. But one can’t help but wonder whether there is any debate going on in those newsrooms about how far a reporter should go when covering a story.

1 comment:

  1. It's not trivial at all. Not to me. It's another example of shoddy journalism being passed off as actual news. In this case, it's relatively harmless, but if this person continues to think that this is an acceptable way of covering events, this could become a real problem later on.

    Thanks for a great post.