Monday, April 20, 2009

Newspaper Calls Bull**it, Denies Coverage.

THE FOLKS AT THE Red Bluff Round Up rodeo in California weren't happy with the press coverage they received at their 2008 event. That year, a bull jumped into the stands and injured six spectators, including three children.

So this year, the rodeo organizers told the media that they would be escorted by rodeo officials to ensure "proper coverage." In the case of an emergency, the media would be escorted away to a designated area.

The journalists at the local paper, the Record Searchlight, didn't like the idea of being managed by public relations people. So they declined to cover the event.

They cited the principles of journalism as their support:

The reason we declined the press credentials is that one of the four basic ethical principles for journalists is to act independently. It's our job to bring you the news based on our best judgment, not to willingly submit to being "managed."

Should the newspaper have declined to cover the event? Did the PR people have the right to "manage" the media? Is the newspaper overreacting? Are they letting down their readers by not covering the event?

What if it was the Eagles or Phillies trying to control coverage? What would you do if they tried to control the message? Then could you ignore the game?


mike revak said...

I believe it was stated best when it was mentioned that journalists are meant to act indepedently. When we have situations like this, it's almost as if the people "managing" the journalists are present for the sole purpose of controlling what is covered and, more importantly,what's not covered.

Andrea Symonds said...

I think that no longer covering the event was the best thing for the journalists to do in that situation, not only because the PR reps were trying to censor what is available to the public, but to also set a precedent for other future events that need coverage. If people including children were injured by a bull that jumped in the stands at rodeo event, then people have the right to know about it. No question about it.

Angelina Thoman said...

While I'm sure safety is a reasonable explanation for "managing" journalists, it is clear that the officials of this event were trying to regulate the publicity of the event. That way, if something equally tragic happened again, the journalists could be escorted "to safety", before being able to report on the negative side of the event. Congrats to the journalists who stood up to the PR people, because if they cannot be an independent monitor of events, it would be unethical to report only what the people in charge wanted to be reported on. Portraying only what groups want to be publicized is the job of PR people, not journalists.

Piccone said...

I think the newspaper should have told them they weren't going to cover it but then showed up anyway. I think it should have been reported, but under the circumstances I respect the paper for showing some testicular fortitude and sticking it to those evil PR people. Just kidding, but seriously the media shouldn't let PR people bully them around. To answer the question about the Birds or the Phils trying to control coverage that is a hard question because the audience that wants information of the Eagles or Phillies is a bit more mainstream in my opinion.

Geo said...

Yeah, it's a hard question. But answer it! Don't cop out!

- George
(the teacher who dares you to ignore the Eagles)

Lara Taylor said...

I think if reporters denied coverage of a Philadelphia major sports team, they would create a huge controversy and things could go either way.

People might not understand why the press acted the way they did and they would be angry at the press.

Or, people might not understand why the press acted the way they did, not care, and read any of the other newspapers that did report on it while being "managed."

Or, maybe the citizens of Philadelphia would applaud the members of the press for standing up for their rights and criticize the rodeo.

I personally would have done the same as these reporters and denied converage of the event, whether it brought a hit to the paper or not. Even for the Phillies or the Eagels (yes, I said it). But I wouldn't exactly be surprised or shocked when people got mad at me.
--lara taylor strayer