Casual commentary about political, cultural and economic issues with a particular interest on the city of Winnipeg by John Dobbin
Thursday, December 19, 2013
What the Media Ignores
The media is often accused on not reporting stories. Or they get accused of editorial bias as part of their ownership strategy or on the part of individual reporters.
In some cases reporters or their respective owners are being maligned but in other cases the criticism is bang on. I think it is no secret that political leanings of some newspaper groups is fairly obvious.
The blurring between news and editorial is what appears to be the most obvious point of frustration for reader of newspapers. The news section generally follows the formula of who, what, where, why, when and how.
It isn't that simple of course. What stories do you choose to put in the newspaper though that are simply reported? I suppose in the case of a local newspaper, you put in local news, weather, sports and entertainment.
For example, a crime story ought to be reported with the W5 formula. Who was the crime committed against, who committed it? What was the crime? When did it happen? Where did it happen? How did it happen? The why of it happening can lead to editorializing but it is okay to quote others in reporting.
"He was a target of opportunity on a dark street."
"The house was known to police for past violent episodes."
In some cases, the media has to push for a story or investigate. They gather information as part of an overall mandate to serve the greater community in the freedom of the press and freedom of information. Political scandal, consumer dangers, law enforcement operations, government departments and spending all present challenges to reporting.
Police are always a tough nut. They will often say the media never gets things right in reporting but then button up as a reflex or because of orders from higher up. And if one of their own is in trouble, it is near impossible to get any information.
But what about the media themselves? They will acknowledge that they need to dig for stories and that they face hostile responses in their efforts. They proceed anyway as many regard it their reporting as a calling. But what happens when the story is the media themselves or more specifically, a reporter?
I say this only because social media is linking to a story involving police and the press that no media inside Manitoba is covering. None. Zero. Nada.
How is this possible when a national news reporting organization is reporting it?
I won't mention the specifics but it is easy for anyone to find out.
You have to ask though: if the media expresses frustration with others for withholding information, what credibility do they have if they don't cover their own?
This isn't the first time this has happened and it probably won't be the last. It does seem curious the lack of reporting in Manitoba and if the story was spiked.
Basic principles of W5 and How should have prevailed despite the sympathies for the plight of the subject of a police matter.
No one is perfect. But ignoring a story that ultimately gets reported by other outside media is poor form.