Saturday, May 7, 2011

Is This Fair Coverage?

Recently, on a Phoenix station, I watched a local reporter cover a story on a proposed gun ban. I lived in Tucson last year, less than a mile from the Safeway, the site of the tragic shootings that wounded U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, so I am personally sympathetic to ideas that might prevent events like this in the future. But I was professionally appalled at what took place in this news report.

All of the anti-gun people interviewed were attractive, articulate and well-credentialed. One, Dr. Peter Rhee, University Medical Center's surgeon in charge of the Trauma unit, became well-recognized during the press conferences held starting on the day of the January 8 shootings.

At least the reporter attempted to get the other side of the story. Representing the Second Amendment argument was a dishelved, dirty man wearing an NRA cap. He had missing teeth and used poor grammar. C'mon, was this the best you could find in conservative Arizona? His credibility was no match for the anti-gun side.

This may be a lesson as much to reporters as to those trying to get coverage. And it's a lesson for those of us who watch news. Analyze reports carefully. Are you swayed because one spokeswoman is prettier than another? Do you consider one side's argument "better" for reasons that don't make sense?

It's stories like these that begin to convince me that perhaps all reporters are not fair and balanced after all.

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