Monday, November 10, 2014

Should Journalists Be The News?

A reporter in Richmond, Virginia recently did an 8 minute-long package about her battles with cancer.

The "special report" is her first person account, which runs parallel to the tale of her colleague, an audio engineer at the station.

Is this good journalism?

Is the reporter using her own experiences to shed light on an important subject? Or is this a manipulative, overly emotional appeal to draw in viewers?

Think about this stuff: Could this story have been done about a person who doesn't work at the station? Is the music too controlling? Is the story well reported? Does it need to be 8 minutes-long? What did you think about the post-story banter?


Morgan O'Donnell said...

I think the reporter's intentions were originally good and that she only intended to give viewers a more in-depth and personal look at what living with cancer is like. However, I do not believe that this was an acceptable way to spread awareness of breast and cervical cancer. The story was far too long and the music made me feel like I was watching something that could appear in a Lifetime movie. The intimacy of the reporting (especially how often the reporter referred to herself) and the conversation between the two coworkers made the whole thing a bit uncomfortable for me to watch. I also found the "banter" at the end of the package unnecessary and too focused on the reporter's own experience instead of cancer awareness as a whole. I do not think the only aim of this story was to draw in viewers; I do think, though, that producers, editors, and other people who were involved made a conscious effort to amp up the dramatics so viewers would stay tuned throughout the entire package. I think another story with a similar goal could have easily been done with the use of a different personal story (maybe from someone in the viewing area) or by only including important information about breast & cervical cancers from medical experts.

Josh Zimmerman said...

I do not think this is very good journalism as the reporter made it her story, and not an informative story about cancer. I do not believe that reporters should be featured in their own pieces

Dan O'Neill said...

The general rule of thumb is that if you place yourself in front of the story of which you're supposed to reporting on, then it is a bad case of journalism. You, the reporter, is supposed to keep any sort of objectivity away from the story, therefore, you should steer clear of even mentioning yourself at all. Most news-formats fail to do this when covering a certain event or topic, whereas most news publications stay weary of this and make sure not to make any mistakes.

The way in which the report is made is also incredibly manipulative and makes it obvious that you're supposed to be sad, and get that sappy feeling the pit of your stomach. Problem is that it's over-the-top and too controlling, therefore, making this a pretty annoying piece to watch. Although it's shedding light on an important subject, there's still many ways in which she could have gone about doing so, and this one was the least professional.

Hannah McComsey said...

I think that this reporter in Richmond had good intentions with her story but when watching the package I became overly focused on the reporter herself and less concentrated on the issue at hand, which is cancer. I think that this reporter could have found another subject on whom she could have based this story and that would have created a more objective package, which would have been more reliable journalism. While I do not see this as strong journalism I realize that the reporter was able to connect to others because she inserted herself in the story and made it more personal, appealing to a wider audience. I would hope that the motive behind this story was to educate the public about the reporter’s particular type of cancer and its treatment options but it does seem a bit self-serving.

Jennifer Roberts said...

I think that the journalists working on this story definitely played up the dramatics. The music contributes to this, as well as the family photographs and the reenacted scene of the main journalist reading a bedtime story to her children. This special report was not really news. This report followed the story of two journalists both struggling with cancer. The news team tried to make it a news story by making it about women's health and the importance of cancer screenings, but I barely remember any of the conclusions drawn about screenings. I do remember the personal stories of the two women though. I think this piece would have seemed more professional if another journalist had covered the story of the two women. The first person account made this piece less of a news story. I also think more time should have been dedicated to prevention and screening, as well as listing the symptoms of cervical and breast cancer. The story also should have been shortened and the dramatics cut.

Dymond Mumford said...

For a newscast, I feel as if this piece was not appropriate. If the reporter in Richmond had not focused on herself throughout the 8-minute long package, it would have been fine. This is not an autobiography, it should have focused on statistics since this is news. This would have been great for a longer segment, shown at a later time (like 8 or 9) maybe an hour about Women in Media who have Cancer, and how they are dealing with it.

Maryvic said...

I believe that it is okay to speak about family and in their case their own station, it added a different twist to the story as they showed what they do behind the scenes, and their bond. The issue comes when the word "I" has to be used. I believe another reporter should have done the story. Since she knows the details she could ave produced, but have someone else interview the sound manager and her together instead of her interviewing both, her self and her work mate.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Dymond, this piece of the newscast was not appropriate. In lecture, Professor Miller discussed how as journalists we are to stay neutral and our duty is to report the news to the people. However, this story is personal and when journalism becomes personal it puts the journalist on the other side of professionalism. I think this journalist should have made an educated choice to separate from the story because it is too person.
-Lizzy McNeill
Journalism and Society T&TH @11

Faissal Darwish said...

If many women are diagnosed with cancer on an annual basis like Sears stated, then she could've easily found other women in the area to speak about it, rather than making herself and Yvonne the story.

The background music was overpoweringly effusive and melodramatic, and highlighted more emotions and less of cancer.

The journalist made it seem like a sob story, and I'm not denying the fact that cancer is one of the worst illnesses anyone could have, but I think what women with breast or cervical cancer need to hear is a message of optimism which would encourage them to live happily while coping with the issue.

Also, the video was too lengthy and became a little too boring. Clearly the journalist tried including every single piece of information about her personal story no matter how little it was.

I also thought some of the things they included were stupid, like the doctor saying that it's hard to tell patients they have cancer. Like really? That's what you consulted the doctor about? His feelings? You have a doctor! Talk more about the wider issue and the process of chemotherapy or something!

Sequoia Hall said...

I agree with Faissal. The reporter should not have made the story about her. So many women (and men) are diagnosed with cancer each year. Its unfortunate that she is suffering from the disease, but she should not have inserted herself into the story. I felt like the video was a pity party for the reporter. The sad music only added to the dramatic package. It is okay for her to be interviewed about her disease ( like Robin Roberts was), but it is not appropriate for her to be included in a story she is reporting.