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.
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03-30-2013, 10:43 PM #1
News Media "Spin" - Dallas FD Helmet Camera Video & Social MediaDFW
"There's no such thing as a free lunch."
03-31-2013, 12:45 PM #2
Sounds like the typical fire chief to me:
It wasn't my idea or I didn't say you could do it, so it's a bad idea.Robert Kramer
Management is making sure things are done right. Leadership is doing the right thing. The fire service needs alot more leaders and a lot less managers.
"Everyone goes home" is the mantra for the pussification of the modern, American fire service.
Comments made are my own. They do not represent the official position or opinion of the Fire Department or the City for which I am employed. In fact, they are normally exactly the opposite.
03-31-2013, 01:59 PM #3
The press here was taking certain journalistic liberties as well. We beefed up our PIO department with a dedicated officer instead of the "trained" on duty Captain. Things have gotten much better as he has built up good relationships with the media outlets here, so much so that a guy like me who hardly pays attention to that stuff, noticed. It also helps to have a chief that will take the time to clarify any possible inaccuracies before they make the newscast.
As for the helmet cameras, these coupled with the ability to upload it to Youtube are our own worst enemy. There are enough videos of our fires around because everyone carries a smartphone. If a guy forgets that he is recording, and starts talking about a patient on an accident, you've just set yourself up for a possible HIPPA suit. Not to mention that I personally could make a sailor blush with the vulgarities that I spew when I think nobody is around but the crew. Not a fan of the cameras...IAFF
04-10-2013, 09:20 PM #4
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Ha, I know who made the video.
I was always told to stay away from the media. Nothing good comes from it.
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