News Media "Spin" - Dallas FD Helmet Camera Video & Social Media
A few days ago, a Dallas firefighter posted a helmet camera video of their engine making the initial attack of a one-story, wood-frame house fire. The link for that video is here:
The fire looks like a textbook example of your basic "bread and butter" house fire that we handle every day.
Apparently, the media saw it, was impressed, and wanted to find out more about the cameras. They tried to get more information but couldn't get it in as timely a manner as they'd like for the evening news, so what did they do? In the typical "reporter" fashion, they made up their own story and made it one of the lead-in stories on the evening news. Here is their spin:
A friend of mine is an Assistant Chief with the DFD and offered this perspective. He said that the news reporter tried to contact the PIO who was out to lunch and apparently was too busy to take the reporter's phone call. The reporter then went to the fire station (where the firefighter with the camera was assigned) and tried to get an interview and, per the DFD rules, they were referred to the PIO.
A long story short - the PIO never returned their calls and the media made up a "controversy" about the cameras. The Fire Chief got mad because the PIO didn't do his job and now you have not only a controversy, but a "mad" Fire Chief. The reporter took a little liberty with the story and concluded that some type of investigation would occur and added that to the media "frenzy". Not only that, but apparently one of the firefighters at the station where the reporter was trying to get the "unofficial" interview was asked by the reporter if he was a member of the union (which led to the "Firefighter's Association is also refusing to comment..."
The summary is this: reporters will say anything to get a story. Most of us know that already. They will also spin anything you say in a fashion that you almost don't even recognize it. In this case, the only "controversy" was that the reporter couldn't get a story in the time-frame he wanted it.
From the Fire Department's perspective, they should have been more proactive in managing what could have been an awesome PR opportunity. Instead the media has portrayed the DFD command staff, and specifically the Fire Chief, as having buried his head in the sand.
Ironically, they created a social media policy within an hour of this story making the news.