Monday, August 13, 2007

Seeing is not believing

Where did the booze and marijuana come from?

The prosecutor accused of driving under the influence in a Colorado newscast probably would like to know the same thing.

Anyone who has the privilege of hearing Poynter's broadcast/online guru Al Tompkins talk about ethics in an online world will never look at videos for television newscasts and newspapers in the same light after his very thought provoking discussion.

One of the videos Tompkins showed was that of a Colorado prosecutor who was accused of being under the influence when his car collided with another driver. The police did not file any charges against the prosecutor, drawing the ire of the driver, who alleged that the department was protecting him.

From the ominous music, to a mug shot of the prosecutor dug up from 1996, to file footage of empty beer cans and a bag of marijuana, this investigative piece was littered with altered and misleading images. The reporter also failed to get comment from the prosecutor (if she tried, it wasn't mentioned), making the story very one-sided.

We as journalists owe it to our audiences to be truthful and we really don't serve anyone when we alter footage to get a make the final product more compelling in order to boost ratings or drive Web traffic. It hurts our credibility and causes us to lose our audiences, not retain them.

- Erica Pippins

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