Wednesday, May 2, 2012

There are black widows, merry widows... and the queen of the "A" Block... the grieving widow

A while back I was talking to a client who was on her way out to do a "grieving widow" story. You know... someone dies, reporter shows up, gets family member to choke up looking at picture of said dead person. The reporter told me the News Director told her, "Make sure you get tears."

And that's not the first time I've heard a reporter getting that directive.

So let me ask all you you managers, assignment editors and News Directors a question: Would you go out on the street, pick a person at random, and make that person cry? Of course not.

So why, in a time when someone in mourning needs a shoulder to cry on, do you provide a camera and a microphone?

There are stations that do this constantly, and promote the hell out of these stories. Think about that, those of you in management. You are using someone's death to promote your newscast. You want a camera at your own funeral and your own personal promo for the six o'clock newscast? I think not.

Of course, those stations are usually playing to the lowest common denominator. Their viewers are those who rubberneck at car wrecks and who couldn't name the Vice President of the United States but can identify the entire cast of Jersey Shore.

You wanna do a legit followup to a tragedy? Leave the grieving widow alone and find the real story. Why it might have happened, how it might have been prevented, who might be responsible.

There's a creature that lives off dead things. It's called a vulture. Don't join the flock.


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