Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Money-making Tragedies & Peeping-Tom Reporting


Watching Lebanese TV these days is literally nauseating.

Some channels have specialized in creating music videos they use as fillers in between programs and which are nothing more than cheap montages of families in pain, crying, mourning, screaming, fainting over tacky classical music (music we now know by heart; we have enough tragedies a year to sustain the entire classical music industry, if there were one in Lebanon).

Even the news have turned into cheesy, emotions-hyped videos!

Journalists are no longer interested in reporting facts, they're looking for sensational images to edit and rearrange in (tragic) short movies. We should hold Awards for those Filmmaking-Journalists... Or Journalists turned filmmakers? The difference is no longer visible and nobody cares anymore anyway.

As the minister of health replied in a very reasonable manner to all the questions (and sensational speculations) thrown at him during the press conference that followed flight 409's tragic crash a few days ago; reporters on location at the crash site and in hospitals played their cards quite well with the common citizens to get whatever they could not retrieve from politically correct interviewees.

It felt as if the goal was not to gather information on current developments, but rather get the most atrocious and shocking answers.

I can remember two interviews in particular:

  1. N.S. at the hospital speaking to the Red Cross in-charge following the minister's press conference. When asked if there were any remains of ripped bodies, the minister insisted that there was no need for such graphic descriptions at this point in time. The main concern was the rescue efforts which is what anyone should be focusing on when speaking to the Red Cross. Supposedly. Instead, NS's interview cleverly extracted graphic information worthy of any respectable horror movie: the rescue team had found the body of a child; the body was headless. Promptly after the interviewee left, NS made sure to mention the body in question was that of a boy. I couldn't help but feel so damn betrayed! This poor child had no right to privacy, even in death. His family, relatives and/or friends were probably watching and I cannot even begin to imagine what their reactions could have been especially when initial reports confirmed there were only two children on board, precisely a boy and girl. There was no need to reveal a name, the mere fact of revealing it was a "child" was enough, let alone specifying a gender!

  2. S.E.H. at the beach speaking to citizens who live nearby. This must have been the most ridiculous and laughable interview I've ever seen in my entire life. And I've seen a lot, in the media industry at least. I'm no journalist. And I'm no genius. But at least, if I were ever to produce an interview, especially on live TV, I would most definitely make sure to speak to the interviewees, give them clear questions and get clear answers before going on air. It was very obvious that such basic (and not at all time-consuming) prepping was never done! She had a man in front of her who was speaking about the bad weather and the sea during a storm. Had it been a scientific assessment from an expert, it would have been fine. Instead it was just a poor guy with limited education (no offense intended, I promise, but this transpired very clearly as he spoke). Since he had a hard time expressing himself (and answering the questions) his friend who was off camera suddenly interrupted and started answering, placing himself very nicely in front of the camera. Very quickly a third friend of the previous two also appeared and started giving his views on the rescue situation (which they were not a part of). In the meantime, the first guy got on his cel-phone looking at the camera, speaking loudly and laughing (apparently someone was watching, recognized him and called). Back in the newsroom, the anchor obviously felt like the entire conversation was useless and tried to shift the report towards a more journalistic direction and asked if there was any official rescue team on location such as the red cross or the army. Instead of picking up the pieces and ending the report on a smart note, the reporter replied with strong confidence that these citizens have lived all their life near the beach, know the sea in and out and are experts in retrieving drowning bodies and corpses! Yes, yes, your eyes are not betraying you! These citizens are experts in retrieving corpses!! From the sea!! Because they live near the beach!! Aha. Ok. If you say so.

These are just two of the examples we've had the privilege to watch these past days from our very professional TV stations.

I don't mean to pick on anyone but they were just reports that drove me insane! As do the maddening classical-music-drama-horror-awardwinning-movies!

Fine. I may be a little cranky.
I could have let it go.

But I feel so sad for this profession.
The watchdogs of society are not doing society any good anymore!

What is their role nowadays?
Producing sensational movies?
Or searching for the truth and reporting facts?

As a citizen who relies on news reporters to do their job, I feel betrayed. I look for news and get sensationalism and gossips!

As a person who feels strongly about human rights, privacy and respect, I feel ashamed for the victims' families who are being used and abused for ratings and whatnot.

Audiences are not peeping toms, so stop putting us in these situations!
(Damn reality TV and all the crap it made possible/acceptable)

We do not enjoy watching the most intimate moments of a person in distress. As we do not appreciate when our sorrow is broadcasted everywhere when we are in distress. And I am fairly certain the journalists themselves would not appreciate it either if it happened to them or their loved ones.

I'm going to stop thinking about these useless actions.

My last thought goes to the families of the victims, praying for all of the lost souls to rest in peace...


L'épice said...

*méga soupir*

Journalists are making a fool of their (???) profession and no one seems to really care...
If only I could call during a live tv show, to express my disgust...

~♪ bl✮g ♫~ said...

I don't think it would do any good babe! They have no value or ethics to understand what you say and feel any sort of shame or remorse.

Today I was having a conversation with our neighbor, you know the one who's a journalist at one of Lebanon's leading TVs. One of the reporters was getting grief from her colleagues for a sensational report she made. She couldn't understand why it was all so upsetting! She was just so proud of achieving a "scoop" of some sort and she even dared saying: people want to see this!!??!!?? Really????? Dumb ass bitch!

armigatus said...

Very sad indeed.

What are we teaching the children?