I’ve done some things in my career of which I am not proud: parked illegally, trampled on raw nerves, asked a question just to get a tear, continued to roll tape after being asked to leave the premises, given deliberately vague answers to direct questions about my presence. So far be it for me to throw stones at a photog, reporter, or television station for any transgressions of propriety in the pursuit of news, but here goes.
What, you haven’t seen it? Check it out. I’ll wait.
Okay, I rarely follow those links either.
Let me set it up for you. In the clip, reporter Colleen Coyle stands beside a rack of mortars to bring us the latest on the fireworks show that will be held on July 4. She goes through the standard audio slate, naming the slot for which she and photog Wyatt Goolsby are taping, counts backwards from 3 and begins her spiel.
Eight seconds in, she states that she’s Live in Kaboom Town.
About now, you’re probably saying, “C’mon Turd, everybody does ‘like lives.’ Give the girl a break. It was probably just a slip of the tongue.” Did I mention that in the audio slate she also claims this is a “live shot.”
I know what you’re thinking, it was probably just some sloppy editing by the web guy. He was probably rushed and didn’t chop off the slate or posted the wrong take on the web. No one would intentionally say they were live when they weren’t. Yet, checkout the headline on the website headline. It specifically calls it “Instant Live 8.”
This was intentional deceit. If you are not there as speaking the words and transmitting pictures as people are are watching you, you are not live!
“But Turd,” you say, “no need to get your panties in a wad over a web gimmick. Cut them some slack.” In the taped segment Miss Coyle mentions that earlier in the 5:00 hour she talked to someone else about something else. This was clearly not a web piece. It was done for air in a WFAA newscast.
“But Turd, this was entertainment news. Fluff. It’s not like she said she was live at an execution or a murder scene.” It doesn’t matter. A lie is a lie.
This is not a semantic thing like “I did not have sex with that woman,” or “It depends what the meaning of ‘is’ is.” Coyle and Goolsby, the producers running the show, the guy in the feed room recording the segment, the editor who cut the it and posted it to the rundown, the director who pulled it up from the station’s video server, and the technical director who punched the button to put it on the air all knew they were not live, yet told their viewers that they were.
How can we as journalists demand truth from public officials, bureaucrats, and crooked auto mechanics if we are not willing to hold ourselves to the same standard?
How can Coyle, Goolsby, and WFAA demand integrity from the people who sit before their lenses and display none of their own?
Why didn’t Goolsby or Coyle simply say, “I won’t participate in calling this a live shot”? The piece would have been just as effective had Coyle left out the word “live.” She could have said she simply “at” Kaboom Town, and carried on with her story and interview. No harm. No foul.
The fact that they were “live” had no bearing whatsoever on the story. It was not “latebreaking.” It was not “uptotheminutenews.” It was an interview at a fireworks shop for God’s sake.
Coley, Goolsby, et. al. are no better than Jayson Blair, Janet Cooke, Stephen Glass, or Michelle Kosinski whose infamous fake flood live shot for NBC Today drew the ire of many in television news and a few “but for the grace of God, there go I’s.” All famous liars. That some lied about quotes and others lied about the depth of the water or even being “live” makes no difference. They all intentionally mislead their audience.
The actions of Coyel, Goolsby, and WFAA call into question the standards and practices of not only WFAA, but the entire industry, and they should pay the price publicly for it. It is the duty of every journalist to denounce the practice and refuse to perpetrate lies on the public they claim to serve.