Musings on copters, reporters and Sept. 11
E-mails have been coming in hot and heavy. Keep 'em coming because I crave feedback Ñ good, bad and angry. Here's a sample:
Subject: Ward Weaver coverage
• 'With their high-tech toys, (Portland stations) now just invade privacy, legal consequences be damned.'
Ñ Michael Korte, Troutdale
• 'My animals and those of my neighbors were scared half to death. One dog got his foot caught in a chain-link fence when, in a panic, he tried to escape.'
Ñ Brent Kellogg, Oregon City
It's something that no station will ever report. When there is extended coverage that has news choppers hovering overhead hour after hour, residents below are sure to complain about the incessant noise. The stations Ñ and City Hall Ñ always get helicopter complaints when they pick a neighborhood to hover over.
• 'What you said about Anna Song upset me. É Her tears were real and, frankly, it helped the mourning viewers to think even somebody like her could be moved to tears.'
Ñ Janet Bates, Longview
It wasn't so much the tears that bothered me. Reporters have emotions, too. Cronkite, Brokaw and Rather have teared up on camera.
But Song seemed to feel she needed to spend much of her face time comforting family, friends and even those who didn't know the two victims. Reporters need to report objectively and impartially Ñ and yes, empathetically. That's their role and their purpose. They are not surrogate family members or goodwill ambassadors.
Song later made herself fodder for fellow journalists and at least one nationally syndicated TV critic (Howard Rosenberg of the Los Angeles Times) by speaking at the Aug. 29 memorial service, which immediately made her part of the story. That's something that should never happen. Song should have been using her expertise and knowledge of the story to cover the service.
Subject: Sept. 11 coverage
• 'I'm with you on the 9-11 rehashes. I've already promised myself I won't watch anything that simply chronicles Ñ again Ñ what happened that day. I don't think it diminishes our compassion for the victims and their families to expect television to look ahead and inform us about how ready we are to prevent another tragedy.'
Ñ Alan Willis, Portland
As callous as it might sound, the networks and cable channels will take a close look at the ratings from Wednesday. If they show big viewership, expect more of the same next Sept. 11.