In the world of PR, we’re not supposed to criticize the media. Right? But sometimes media deserve our disgust.
Two recent cases in point.
First, the Friday morning, Nov 16th Good Morning America show. It featured an 8:05 AM piece on the bankruptcy of Hostess Foods and the loss of 18,500 jobs.
News anchor Josh Elliott announced with a smirk:
“And we do have some, well, rather troubling news here. Hostess, the maker of, among other things, Twinkies and Wonder Bread says it will go out of business today. It failed to resolve a strike among its workers. A strike it says crippled its ability to make and deliver its products. Some 18,500 jobs are expected to be lost, you guys.”
The on-air team of Elliott, George Stephanopoulos, Amy Robach, Laura Spencer and Sam Champion jump in to comment on the story. Passing around a plate of Twinkies. Laughing, “toasting” and joking about the disappearance of the popular junk food treat.
When is 18,500 jobs lost funny, ABC?
As Scott Whitlock at Newbusters.org notes:
” Elliott joked, “You know, I’m just going to save mine for 12 years when it will still be good.” Co-host George Stephanopoulos mused, “So this is, like, one of our final Twinkies.” Amy Robach mocked, “A toast to Twinkies.”
I don’t know. I guess I expect higher standards from media. Maybe some sensitivity to the loss of more than 18,000 jobs? And in the midst of a recession, some good journalism questions and genuine insight?
Like what will happen to those workers affected? Is there any hope to save the company? What led to the company failure? Is the company failure a sign of the economy and the “financial cliff” facing the US at the end of the year?
NBC, CNN, most print and other media seemed to have no trouble covering the Hostess story and adding insight without mockery.
Media? When you screw up, shut up and apologize
Then there’s Ann Coulter. The doyenne of daytime, right-wing TV and media commentary. Recently showing her sensibility in a tweet describing President Obama as a “retard” after Monday’s last Presidential debate.
Then she attacked others who disagree with her as reported in Huffington Post: “Oh, screw them,” she said. “That’s what they feel I do? I feel they’re being authoritarian bullying victims.”
She added to her brilliant, brainy defense in Politicker: “The only people who will be offended are too retarded to understand it.”
Funny how someone with such an extensive vocabulary could be so, I don’t know, limited in her conversations. She deserves the contempt she received on CNN, Twitter and elsewhere for these comments.
I don’t expect blowhard talk show hosts, caustic commentators, unsympathetic editorialists, political pundits and shock jocks to be politically correct.
But on a TV newscast or public affairs show, most watching would expect fairness, honesty, integrity and not jokes at the expense of others’ misfortune.
I guess the objectivity of Walter Cronkite and Tom Brokaw is ancient media history. Recent plagiarism at major media outlets, errors in reporting (CNN, FOX) and missteps such as these shake our faith in journalism. We deserve better from the media.
It’s hardly surprising trust in media continues a freefall as reported by Pew Center research.
Like any bad PR or PR failure, all we can do is point out these mishaps. Reflect on them, share lessons learned and move on.
Yes, sometimes media suck. I just can’t remember a time when the sucking sound was so loud, frequent and so widespread.
You can see the ABC TV clip and read the transcript on Newsbusters.org.
What do you think? Does freedom of speech overrule integrity or honesty in the media? Should we just accept and ignore media showboating? I’d enjoy hearing your opinion in the comments below.
Author: Jeff Domansky