Local TV Poaches, Sensationalizes, Community Reportage

“Co-director of Press Pass TV, a youth organization in Boston,” Cara Lisa Powers (Women In Media & News, 3/31/09) is telling how, having “shot a story at the home of a community member who had a scare Friday night when shots were fired outside his childrenâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢s bedroom,” her group “sent the story to local media outlets with a press release to get our solution-oriented message as far as it would go.” Gaining some pick-up in local media, Powers points out that, “all we asked was that any other news outlets that used the story let us know”:

So we were surprised last night when we saw the story on the Channel 7 11 O’Clock News. Unlike Open Media Boston and the Dorchester Reporter, who were excited to promote the wonderful work of Boston youth, WHDH sent out their own crew to interview the same people that we had already spoken to, capture similar b-roll, and add a few formulaic sensationalist twists.

Part of the mission here at Press Pass TV is to use the news as a source of empowerment, community-building and to inspire people to action. We were happy to feature Darrin Howell, Cassie Grice and their neighbors in their dialogue about solutions to keep their children and their neighborhood safe. The story featured here on Channel 7 does none of those things, and instead perpetuates a lot of the hopelessness and fear we see young people already feeling about their communities.

Saying that Press Pass TV is “not only… disappointed that NBC would chase a story already covered by youth without giving them any credit for breaking it,” the organization’s member “are also saddened by their portrayal of our community.” Compare for yourself the striking difference between community oriented reporting and a corporate outlet’s take on the same story.