Thursday, September 01, 2011

What's wrong with this picture?

There is a story going around the internet about a police officer in New Mexico who was caught by a survelliance camera having sex with a woman on the hood of his squad car, while he is in uniform, in broad daylight. No, I'm not going to link with it. And my reaction is not what you might expect.

It's not the cop's behavior that is shocking to me. Let's face it...a lot of what used to happen only in the dark now happens in the light. Combine that fact with the increasing number of cameras aimed at all of us out there in the world, and we have the kind of documentation no other great civilization had available as they fell. Lucky us.

What bothers me is how a local television news broadcast handled the story. They got the tip. They worked the story. They sued to get the pictures using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). So far so good, I guess. Although the FOIA is one of those laws that has been stretched so far beyond it's original intent...but I digress.

Once the news program had the photos, they figured it still wasn't much of a story unless they could show them. And they did! On the NEWS! But even that wasn't good enough. No. Somehow, these people thought the story wasn't complete without reaction from the public. So they printed up a bunch of 8x10s and went out into the street and showed them to people to get their reactions on camera!

I'm sorry. I don't care how much the world has changed. If a man came up to me while I was eating at an outdoor cafe and said he wanted to show me a picture of people having sex, I would probably hit him over the head with my handbag! (Picture Ruth Buzzi's character Gladys but with a much bigger purse.) I wonder if anyone the reporter approached had that kind of reaction. If so, those clips obviously ended up on the digital version of the "cutting room floor".

Lest we think that these "journalists" have no ethics whatsoever, they made it a point to note that they had not shown the picture on their earlier newscast because "children are awake at that hour". Oh, and they blurred the woman's face in the picture. How noble of them.

Seriously. Is this what they teach in journalism school?

Yes, traditional journalism is dying. But it's not just because of the internet and 24-hour cable news stations. It's also because what is now considered "news" is worth only as much as how many people click on the link or stay on the channel.

And we eat it up.

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