Journalism is dead, Part 2

Journalism is dead, Part 2

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Weather Channel actor Mike Siedel struggles to stand up in “high winds” as some people wearing shorts amble by in the background. Some suggest his performance be nominated for an Oscar.

The Weather Channel asserted the grass was slippery and that Siedel[1] was tired after a long day, meaning this was a report about Mike Siedel’s condition rather than the conditions in Wilmington, NC. It was apparently easy to stand or walk on the nearby pavement, but Siedel chose “slippery” grass to exaggerate the wind conditions. At the upper left is a graphic showing the wind speed in his vicinity was 29 mph with gusts to 48 mph.

Warning: the following video begins with comments from sex predator Matt Lauer before you see actress Michelle Kosinski, who played the role of a journalist in a canoe, reporting on flooding – and we discover the water is may be 5 inches deep as two men walk by.

Next, ABC 7 New Jersey “News” actress Lucy Yang plays the part of a creative story teller in deep flood waters as more people walk through the 3-4 inches of water:

In 1992, NBC faked a fiery truck explosion for their “Dateline” story hour. NBC hired Bruce Enz to conduct the test, ignoring that their vehicle accident specialist was an expert witness for a law firm suing General Motors. The gas tank was intentionally overfilled and the wrong gas cap placed on the tank so it would leak.  NBC “news” accelerated the car at 40 mph (not the claimed 30 mph) and used small, remote controlled rocket motors to ignite the gasoline. The reporter claimed the crash caused a “small hole” in the tank, however, x-rays of the tank showed there were no holes. The “news” report was a staged hoax and several months later, NBC retracted the entire report and General Motors agreed to a legal settlement. Three producers were fired, the president of NBC News resigned and actress Michele Gillen, playing the  the reporter, was demoted to news anchor of the network affiliate in Miami, FL.  Her bio mentions working for NBC Dateline but leaves out her role in fake news. Bruce Enz continued working at The Institute for Safety Analysis.

Consider the prominent role that the news media plays in influencing populations. Most of the time, their errors go unnoticed – yet are often shared on social media to prove a point and influence others. Too often they are caught fabricating aspects of the stories from the humorous items above to former CBS anchor Dan Rather’s “fake but accurate” news report to former NBC news anchor Brian Williams fabricated reports. Journalism has no credibility – because of their own actions, over a long period of time.

Of course, there are good people practicing good journalism. But how can a reader or viewer know that the reporter is good and honest? There is no database of reporters or publications showing their history of accurate or inaccurate reporting. The common approach, of an “appeal to authority” is negated by top figures in journalism such as Dan Rather and Brian Williams. News consumers are left to make their own determination – and their safest course of action is to assume news reports are inaccurate until or unless subsequently shown to be true.

The way to respond to accusations of fictional news reporting is to double down on accuracy, objectivity and remaining calm. Unfortunately, the news industry continues to harm itself through self destructive behavior typical of middle school drama. This behavior is bewildering.

[1] Siedel has a Masters degree in meteorology, not acting.

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