I can't say that I watch much television news. With the exception of the recent debates between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, I don't really remember the last time I physically turned the television on. I get most of my news either online or listening to the radio in the car. When I talk with friends about what's going on in the news, it usually revolves around some sensationalized story that's light on facts but heavy on opinion and fake or uninformed emotion. It's always been a sore subject of mine when journalists try to sway the viewer with their own opinion — be it subtle suggestions or blatant partisanship.
I've recently had to have the conversation with my kids about how so much of what we call news is really nothing more than scripted stories written by either someone with a political agenda or simply by someone wanting their story to get in front of as many eyes as possible. So much of what the masses call journalism is really nothing more than reality TV — written and shot in a deceptive way to get through the endless clutter that viewers are subjected to on a daily basis.
ABC News was recently reporting on the alleged experience of a 30-year-old woman in Woodruff, South Carolina who had been held captive in a storage container by a registered sex offender. You would think that ABC News, the producer, the film crew, and finally the reporter would go about covering this by possibly getting in front of the storage unit and stating the facts as they were known at the time.
All traces of the video have been removed from YouTube
Watching the video, all seems like a normal (albeit grisly) story where the case is fairly straightforward and easy to understand. Sadly, the news crew took it upon themselves to "create" a more menacing scene than what they had found. A photograph obtained from CNNMoney soon surfaced that created some problems with this scenario. Have a look at the photo below and ask yourself, "what's wrong with this picture?".
The fact that a news crew decided to add their own "official" police tape to the alleged crime scene is shocking. I'm not trying to discount the crime that may have taken place there, but when news crews start to manufacture settings, how can any part of the story be taken seriously? Does anyone remember the movie Nightcrawler? That's not where I want to see the news industry going, but I imagine it might be too late.
In ABC's defense, I was happy to hear that Julie Townsend, vice president of communications at ABC News, denounced the trick, but this is to be expected as this is their job.
This action is completely unacceptable and fails to meet the standards of ABC News... as soon as it was brought to our attention, we decided to take the producer out of the field, and we're investigating further.
Let's keep calling out this nonsense when we see it and continue to push and hold journalists to a higher standard — otherwise the nightly news will look no different than a reality show. That's a reality that I'd prefer not to live in but then again, we're probably already there.