1. #1
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    Angry Media, whats love got to do with it

    What is it about the media that troubles you so?

    Do you know how to use the media effectively?

    Why do you love to hate it?

    I read over and over in some of the forums that you don't like or trust the media, however if it isn't written in media, you don't believe it.

    Something is wrong with this picture in my humble opinion....

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    One's relationship with the media is dependent on the attitude towards them. I have a degree in public communications, serve as the Department's PIO and I do free lance writing and reporting for two local newspapers, so I have been on "both sides of the fence" whenit comes to working with the media.

    You cannot treat the media like crap and expect kid glove treatment in return. By the same token, the media must treat the fire department with the same respect and professional courtesy that they expect.

    If there is a problem with the media (whether it be print or electronic), it is due to a "failure to communicate". The appointment of someone to do the PIO work at an incident is invaluable. Work with the media, use them to get your message across!
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    Wink Well put Captain!

    Originally posted by Captain Gonzo
    If there is a problem with the media (whether it be print or electronic), it is due to a "failure to communicate". The appointment of someone to do the PIO work at an incident is invaluable. Work with the media, use them to get your message across!
    Let me take off the Bullard wildfire helmet here and put on the network news cap for a moment. I've been at one of the Big 3 networks for almost 27 years...14 in the news division. The Captain is absolutely correct. The media would rather hear the accurate facts from a representative of the police, fire or EMS organizations on the scene. In the case of radio or TV, they would prefer to tell the story using soundbites from someone who is well informed, i.e., a firefighter, officer, paramedic or yes, a Public Information Officer. The alternative for them is to seek information, bits and pieces, from eyewitnesses and untrained observers....something that may provide a variety of viewpoints, accurate and inaccurate.

    Keep in mind. They are there to do a job. They are there to report the news. If you can not provide them with info, they will go to many extremes to get it. That includes long range lenses, helicopter cameras, opinions from experts who are not on the scene...and might make assumptions based on their observations. You can do yourself, your department, the media and the public, a huge service by providing information at specific locations and at specific times. Answer questions politely and professionally...and they will most certainly treat you with the same professional attitude in return.

    If you decide to be uncooperative, rude or abusive...that will reflect in their reporting. The PIO or your department will wind up either in print, audio or video, as being poorly managed or ill equipped to deal with the public. A well informed PIO can provide positive public relations opportunities...and make your organization look good!
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    Capt, NJ

    I agree with both of you. It seems to me that there is also a problem with quotes being taken out of context, and speculation as well. I'm not saying that respectable media will fabrication stories, but there have been instances where they have pieced information together in such a way as to 'sell' the story better. When that happens because the public are only going on the information that they are given, certain judgements and assumtions are made. We've seen it countless times, it isn't necessarily that the information is wrong (although that does happen), it may just be that the way it is presented leads people to jump to inaccurate conclusions.

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    Default Assumptions & Judgements

    The reality of it is perception.

    Can we blame the media for different levels of perception?

    If the media is so inaccurate, why not challenge them or better yet, why not include them so there is no inaccuracies to begin with?

    Are you saying the media does not go far enough in verifying information? They are irresponsible?

    I want to understand, because the very folks who use the media to progress their own programs are saying on another forum that the media is relentlessly pursuing them. I don't understand how one can use the media all year long to pursue their own interest in fire service and then name call the media when the media pursues them in return.

    It stricks me as wrong or I could be......

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    The reality of it is perception

    Can we blame the media for different levels of perception?
    You are correct, however the perception can be altered by the twist that is put on the information that is released. Out of all the countless hours that are spent interviewing people there is only a small fraction of the information that the media releases. Whether intentionally (tabloids) or unintentionally it is possible for them to alter the opinions of people based on the information that is given in the press release. The only people who know the true story were the ones actually there to witness it, and they quite often don't have all the information either.

    If the media is so inaccurate, why not challenge them or better yet, why not include them so there is no inaccuracies to begin with?
    It isn't that the media isn't included or that they are inaccurate they are given information that is 'suitable' for public release. The way that one person remembers an event will not be the way that another does simply because we all have varying perceptions. Reputable media has to wade through all of the information that they are given from varying sources, and try to determine what the public wants to know.

    Are you saying the media does not go far enough in verifying information? They are irresponsible?
    In some instances I do think that they are rather one sided. For example if they are going to release the names, ranks and affiliations of firefighters that are involved in an incident, then all parties involved should be named in the same fashion, save a minor.

    It is just my personal opinion but I believe that if there is a publication ban placed on something due to the nature of the allegations, then it is a publication ban, and NO personal information of any of the parties involved should be released until such a time that formal charges have been filed and/or a sentence given. It is unfair to name one party and not another, and does nothing but drag that person through the mud and do irreparable damage to their character, IF there have been no formal charges etc. I am talking about an incident in Fl, my reference is nothing more then an example. That is not what this thread is about.

    We still rely VERY heavily on the media. There are a lot of outstanding reporters, that report exactly what they are told, there is no conjecture added, but we also know that information as it is first reported may not be entirely accurate. Discussions that are based on that information, most often will take that into consideration, especially when we know that there is an official report pending etc. The discussion is not to attack anyone or point the finger, it is simply to try to get a grasp on the how's and why's a situation happened, and what can be done to stop it from happening again

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    It's interesting the way differerent people perceive the media.

    We've got two local videographers, who both work for different news channels.

    One of them is an absolute gentleman and a scholar! He can't do enough to help us, because he knows in return we'll help him. We don't stuff him around, we tell him what he needs to know and assist him where possible. In return, he gives us heaps of coverage in the news, has videod numerous extrications and other jobs, and then edited them into training aids for us- all free of charge! And not once, has he abused the priveledge we give him. He doesn't use bad taste footage, he doesn't misrepresent us and always asks us of our opinion on what he has videod to ensure that we are portrayed in the right light!

    Our other camera man is an absolute moron. He oversteps the boundary whenever he is on scene. Refuses to stay behind tape, always tries to sneak his way into a scene. Always lies, telling different people that different Police Officers or other emergency services have given him permission to enter the scene. He does nothing to help anyone under any circumstances. If only he realised how much we could help him...
    Luke

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    There are different types of personalities in the media...Lutan hit it on the head! When a member of the media is being uncooperative with you, you can do something about it. Print reporters have regional editors they have to answer to, electronic media have news directors.

    I once shut down an interview with a television reporter because he was literally screaming in my face. The incident was a confined space rescue situation, and I gave the information that we had at hand. Apparently, it wasn't "good enough" for him. After asking his cameraman to give me a moment with the reporter, I told him that I was giving him the same info as I did the other news operations. being the "nice guy", I gave him another chance...when the red "recording" light came on from the camera, the reporter once again took the belligerent tone, so I shut him down...calmly, no anger, I just said "I am sorry, this interview is over"

    Upon returning to my station, I called the news director for the channel and explained what went on. After the 11:00 PM newscast, which only had a brief report about our incident without an interview, I received a call from the reporter apologizing for his rude behavior! I have dealt with him at other incidents since, and he has shown professionalism and respect, which I have done in turn.

    You can work with the media...as I stated before, professionalism and courtesy go a long way!
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    I was recently turned down by a stringer for a copy of his videotape because he has trouble with the fire police two townships away.

    All the positive things said in the other replies are correct and what we teach in the PA State Fire Academy's class, PUBLIC RELATIONS FOR THE FIRE & EMERGENCY SERVICES.

    The media has a job to do, let them in, give them information and they go home. You never know when you'll need them (like above)and pay-backs are a b*tch. The more you cooperate the more you can receive back. Just don't let it turn into a media circus with them as the ring master.

    The whole idea of public relations remains a mystery to many emergency organizations. And when a fund raiser or other campaign goes wrong they blame the residents and businesses rather than looking internally first.

    If anyone is interested the class is being run December 7 & 8 at the Montgomery County (PA) Fire Academy in Conshohocken. Call 610-278-3500 for more information and registration.
    Last edited by dragonfyre; 09-16-2002 at 02:00 PM.
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    My most recent "horror story" came as a result of an investigation of a major fire ($1.5 million loss)in a commercial establishment. I was asked if arson was suspected. I told the reporter (print media) that, "...there was nothing to indicate arson, however we are very early in the investigation, and nothing has been eliminated as a potential cause."

    I went to the scene the next morning where I was shown a copy of the morning paper by another investigator. He was astounded as I was, since he had heard exactly what I had told this reporter. The headlines in the paper read, "ARSON RULED OUT IN RESTAURANT FIRE".

    I had a talk with the reporter and her editor wherein they were told that any further information for them would be via a short press release, and no further questions would be answered. They were told of the fact that although we didn't anticipate any problems in this case, such careless reporting of facts we provide could cause a potential problem with future cases.

    In all fairness, this resolved the issue, and I've had nothing but cooperation from them since. In turn, for that cooperation, I have tried to provide them with as much access to our incidents as privacy and safety will permit. Since that time, I've had no problems with our local press.

    I'm a firm believer in showing the press as much cooperation as possible, but if you intentionally shaft me, it's over. That's when I use a very short, albeit accurate, press release. And no interviews.
    Last edited by Steamer; 09-16-2002 at 04:39 PM.
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    Most problems I have encountered have been with the print media. Two examples immediately come to mind, both involving fatalities. The first situation involved a fire early one Christmas morning in a neighboring town. A small child was killed in this fire and the photographer on scene insisted on taking pictures of the child being removed in a body bag. He had those pictures printed on the front page of the following day's edition. This photographer was also a "fireman" . I couldn't even begin to imagine how the family or friends of the deceased felt by seeing the photo of their loved one splattered all over the front page. This photographer's goal was to have his picture picked up by Associated Press. I guess it's some kind of great honor or something.

    The other incident occurred during a drowning recovery where two teenage sisters had drowned. My chief and the state trooper on the scene instructed me to not let any photos be taken as the bodies were being removed from the water. Of course, the photographer became irate over the restriction. He yelled how he was with this such and such paper and that we were denying him freedom of the press. The state trooper walked up to this "gentleman" and asked him how would he like to see his camera fly across the river. We ended up holding blankets up end to end to give the deceased and their family some privacy and respect.

    The freedom of the press is a right which must always be preserved in a democracy. However, the rights of the survivors of these tragedies need to be considered also. Would these photographer be able to pick up a paper if pictures of their deceased love ones were plastered all over the front page? Not all media professionals are like these two individuals, but they give the fair and decent ones a bad name.

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    Default Be care what you ask 4, you just might get it

    I am very short sighted indeed. My apologies to many of you that have had some really difficult experiences. So far you have expressed the lack of respect you feel the media has for people in uncontrolable situations.

    I remain in a wondering state. When was the last time you emailed the editor of your local paper to announce a fundraiser or a particular problem you may be experiencing that your local government ignores. How many producers of broadcasts have been invited to your station for a meal? Does the public understand they can ride with you on a BLS unit if they are of age and sign a waiver?

    You have suggested how the media uses you, but how do you use the media, or do you? Have you ever thought about it? Someone posted above, it is a two way street. I agree, but can't articulate exactly what I want to say, at least not yet


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    Default Re: lilsisterosceol

    Originally posted by stroutkristen
    . If someone is going out of their way to capture a photograph of a child's body that is sick and immoral.

    I never thought I'd say it...but Kristen...I agree with wholeheartly.

    I believe Journalism, like all professions, has ethical and unethical individuals. Kristen........dare I borrow one of your favorite quotes: "Life is like a box of chocolates...." Aww..you know the rest.
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    Post Public Safety always likes to be in control

    Uncontrollable on the part of victim, as in grieving parents who have no control over what has happened to their child.

    I don't know Kristen, you tell me are you wrong, right or is it a matter of perception?
    Last edited by lilsisterosceol; 09-16-2002 at 09:03 PM.

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    If someone is going out of their way to capture a photograph of a child's body that is sick and immoral
    I agree as well, however I would like to take that one step further. If someone is going out of their way to capture a photo of ANYONE'S body that is sick and immoral!

    A few years ago, when the movie Donnie Brasco was released there was a gang shooting in the movie theatre during the movie. Took a few seconds for everyone to realize what happened then of course mad panic set it. It was an absolute press nightmare. One person in particular kept crossing the police line, in an effort to get inside and take pictures of the guys brain matter splattered all over the seats, the body was still there, the people who were seated infront of the victim were there (in a different area of the theatre). This guy wanted to make his deadline so the shot could be front page. The victim hadn't been identified, so NO family had been contacted, and all he could think about was a headline.

    As far as using the press, we do for special fundraisers etc. They are invited to a press night. However, there have still been times when they show up early because they want the 'scoop', or they want to interview people candidly. There isn't necessarily anything wrong with that. If someone doesn't want their picture to be shown on TV or in the paper, the press should respect that, and sometimes it is like pulling teeth. I have person experience in this, and I don't think I should have to explain to a reporter my reasons for not wanting my picture released, it should be enough that you said no, or declined to be interviewed.

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    The media and emergency services seem to get along pretty well here. On fatal shootings and such where the scene is still being processed, they might take a few shots of where the body WAS, I remember one incident where you could see a towel and ambu bag laying in the street, past the police tape, but obviously the body was already gone. They seem to be pretty good about not interviewing OIC's at fires until it's under control.

    The one debacle I can think of was 2 or 3 years ago at the annual Puerto Rican festival. A Providence Journal photographer got a half-dozen full-frontal frames of a shooter walking away from his victim, gun still in hand. As the manhunt for this suspect was still on, the police were VERY interested in seeing this film and holding it for evidence. The details are hazy in my memory, but I do remember listening to the scanner as the officer's open mike recorded a screaming match between himself and the photog over the chain of custody and the film, right in the middle of the Journal lobby. She wanted to develop the film and give him doubles; he wanted the CAMERA with the film still in it and was intent on bringing it, with the photographer attached or not, to Headquarters. Dispatcher puts it out as "Officer needs assistance," which is like activating the FAST team for cops. Pretty soon 3 state troopers and 6 Providence officers are screaming towards the Journal offices from every direction. Took everybody a few minutes to calm down (once the supervisors showed up and ORDERED them to calm down) and realize that the Journal had never stiffed law enforcement before, and were perfectly willing to help as long as the police kept their hands off their employees.
    Last edited by CollegeBuff; 09-17-2002 at 02:49 AM.

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    I think as that many times we are to blame for what we get from the media. Don't get me wrong, they certainly can, and do, make their own mistakes. We often fail to properly educate the media, the public for that matter, as to what we do, why we do it, and what happens if we don't. Of course unless its "newsworthy" many times they could care less. Example, local reporter calls ans says, "anything happening"...answer, "just routine stuff, nothing major"...answer,"Oh so nothing major where anybody was seriously hurt or killed"...I mean come on...yes this is only one bad example, and I certainly am not using the broad brush to paint all media this way. We discussed this in the Dateline thing. Many times the bottom line is just that...the bottom line...money. Unfortunately 90% of what we do does not "sell".

    We need to...all of us....be better at selling ourselves. How many of you have had a conversation with Sirus Q Public, explained to him/her some facet of your job(paid or vollie, for ease of a word) and had them drop their jaw to the ground in awe. We need to court them, wine them, dine them and invite them into our world. Explain every detail, as many times as it takes. You will never win in a ****ing contest with them, because they control the spin, so we need to learn their game, play their rules, and get our story out. Will it always work....nope. But it this case, some is better than none.

    For those Departments with PIO's and establish policies, good for you....the rest of us have a long way to go. If we include the media in the good things, the serious things, in all things...then when we need them to be there for us in our most difficult times (which I believe is why this whole post started lilsis) they will be there and do the right thing.

    No offense intended to all media people, but like our profession, there are good and bad......we need to be better.

    Dave

    I apoloize for rant mode without warning....it just slipped out
    Last edited by hfd66truck; 09-17-2002 at 08:46 AM.

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    Smile Yep, yep Dave

    Got slightly more than I bargained for, but yes you are 150% accurate.
    Last edited by lilsisterosceol; 09-17-2002 at 11:00 AM.

  19. #19
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    Talking Help from the media, sure why not....

    To reply to a question from an earlier post.... Yes, we use the local media to help get messages out to the community from time to time and it works. A local weekly had a lady (and lady is correct in every sense) who did Police and Fire among other things. We met at a political fund raiser years ago, and she had some questions about the several VFD's in the area, which were, in her opinion, hard to deal with. I explained that she was seeing the effect of her predecessor who acted like we were there to give him everything on a silver platter. A trust was built with that paper over time, and they are good to work with right to this day. When the reporter mentioned above left the paper (and the area) she introduced me to her replacement, a much younger person, and instructed her to maintain a good relationship with our organization. The new girl looked startled and stated that she knew nothing about Fire/Rescue work. A month later, we had a training event, burning an old house. Our new reporter was suited up and taken thru the operation in the same manner as the new recruits. She got wet, tired, dirty, and cold and loved every minute of it. Two weeks later, a terrific story on volunteer fire training came out on the front page, and we have had a good rapport with the reporter since. Remember the old story about real estate?? "It's Location, Location, Location"! Well, with the media it's "Trust, Trust, Trust"! Work with them, Treat them like the professionals that they are, and act like the professional that you are. Building a good working relationship takes time, especially if you have past damage to repair, and it is a two way street. But, it is well worth the effort. Stay Safe....
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    My experiences with the media are varied and have many different results.

    They are in a way...just like us.... They have a job to do and that is to report the news.

    I find that in general they behave in direct relation the the way they are treated by the police and fire. If we work with them and feed them the information we want them to use, they generally use it. If we don't give them appropriate information they tend to take what they have "heard" or "seen" and put it into the form of a story as they see it and do not necessarily have all the information correct. This has a trickle down effect in that after it goes to print all other media sources pick up on it and roll with it.

    The press can definitely be your best friend or your worst enemy. For some of us the way the press perceives the fire department is based on dealings with past administrations that said..."The hell with the press!" "We will tell them what they need to know." This has created harsh feelings that we now must work to patch up. Get them involved with your programs and give them some positive press to put out and they will generally print other stories in support. Keep them in the dark they will print what they "think happened."

    We have to work to mend the fences that have been broken down over many many years of shunning the press.

    In closing.....no matter what you do...if you screw up you can expect the press to report it, regardless of your relationship with them. That is there job and we have to accept that. If this happens, be careful not to put up the "keep out" sign for the press. Talk with them and explain what happened and work to continue a positive relationship.
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    Default Photo Journalist, Print Journalist & TV Journalist

    Sounds like they are all different creatures.

    The good, the bad and the ugly, no particular order.

    Some of the most difficult photos I have ever viewed were taken by firefighters, however I realize they are not published, but private photos.

    I think it is a good idea for everyone to know a print journalist. They can and will further the cause and awareness of Public Safety.

    While reviewing the 1000 best photos reviewed by NPPA, I noted approximately 75 percent of the winners involved fire and/or fire service. People must really want to understand what it is you do and certainly have an interest in it.

    I hate the mentality I see so often, there is no fire service until there is a fire. Just ask a taxpayer




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    The recent mess in Upper Darby PA is a good example of how the media can turn on you.

    The photographer is a former volunteer firefighter and staff photographer for a paper close to me. However now he is a stringer who goes around looking for stuff to sell. He is also the same one who would not let me get a copy of tape he took at a fire we were recently involved with because he has trouble crossing the fire police lines.

    Well Mr. Kelly, I hope they don't ever let you into a scene again. If your quote is accurate and you hope they don't get into trouble for innocent fun why did you even offer the pictures and video to the media. Your statement that you have no control over what happens to the photos is wrong, you do have control NOT to sell them.

    This event goes to the whole issue over what is and is not news. One of my co-workers hit the nail on the head yesterday when this was all over the 5:00 news. If we didn't have 24 hour a day news channels on 42 cable networks they would be too busy reporting the real news rather than trying to find dirt under any rug they can.

    Yes the firefighters may be wrong for their lack of good judgement and for taking the truck without permission, but is it really news? I spent my college days at Temple University going for a degree in journalism and public relations. With the circus and sensational atmosphere of today's media I'm glad I didn't pursue that career.
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    Default Informative Media

    Firefighter suit heads for court
    By Willoughby Mariano
    Sentinel Staff Writer

    November 10, 2002

    Mediation over a federal court case accusing Osceola County of unfair labor practices against its firefighters ended recently without a conclusion, lawyers on both sides said.

    The case will go to trial unless a judge agrees with county's request for a summary judgment. Previous filings have been rejected.

    The case, filed Dec. 11, says that after three newly unionized county battalion chiefs complained they failed to receive overtime around December 2000, the county retaliated against them by making an administrative change that lowered their pay rate, according to a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Orlando.

    "These guys are there to protect the citizens in Osceola County whenever disaster strikes. They're called in at all hours and risk their lives," said David Robinson, an attorney for the Osceola County Professional Firefighters Local 3284. "They spend hours protecting the lives of others without any compensation at all."

    County officials declined to comment, but denied the allegations in federal court filings. Human-resources officials changed the way they account for battalion chiefs' pay a few months after the complaint to correct a payroll error, not to punish firefighters, their filings state.

    But lawyers for battalion chiefs Timothy Debrecht, Donald Bell and Samuel Jackson said the change had questionable timing. Around December 2000, after firefighters unionized, they began to demand overtime wages they stopped in 1994.

    The change increased the length of the firefighters' standard work year without increasing their salary, which lowered their hourly pay rate, lawyers for the firefighters argued. The change decreased the money they receive for sick leave they do not take, plaintiffs' lawyers contend.

    Battalion chiefs, who are among the higher ranks of the county's fire system, have not received overtime since 1994, according to federal court documents. They argue that they are entitled by law to overtime pay.
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    These Battalion Chiefs are not just Battalion Chiefs, they are good, hard working men, some of the kindest in the county. How can we place pressure on our county to be fair to staffers if we don't receive word that they have been treated unfairly. If we have to pay taxes and we all do, then the money should be expended for what we think is important. A minor detail like Public Safety (tongue in cheek) where the return is ten fold needs media.

    I don't know what to tell you about the idiots out there, they are in every profession and there are probably more idiots than not, but please, please, please use the media to the best of your abilities otherwise we stay in the dark and local government gets away with cheating, stealing and lying
    Last edited by lilsisterosceol; 11-10-2002 at 11:58 PM.

  24. #24
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    Thumbs down Wow, U aren't going to believe what I saw on CNN, or maybe U will

    The thumbs down is for CNN.

    I spent the holidays at Fort George Meade, in Maryland. You know the place, it is the home of our National Security Agency.

    What I am about to tell you is the truth, as I perceived it. A few days after Christmas CNN did a report, supposedly on South Koreans' protesting of the United States war against Iraq.

    The commentator explained how thousands of South Koreans'were in the streets protesting America and our imminent war on Iraq.

    When the cameras switched over to the field reporter in South Korea, fireworks started firing and as the cameras panned the crowd, there was one lone person holding a sign saying, America, do not go to war with Iraq. There was one other person holding a sign, that had something to do with North Korea. When the commentator asked what the fireworks was about, the field reporter explained it was indeed New Year's Eve in South Korea.

    Hmmmmmmm.......I did not have to scratch my head for long to figure out the media had been over zealous and what appeared to them to be war protesters was indeed the South Korean celebration of New Year's.

    Who is in error here, CNN for placing their spin on it or the folks viewing and perceiving CNN was telling the truth? LOL, the media does at times like to play little tricks on us don't they?

    Do you think this type of thing happens often? Do you think others realized what CNN was doing? Why do you think they were allowed to get away with their spin? I think it was pathetic and sorry. I have never been a fan of CNN and only watched because I was not in control of the remote, but I am starting to hear what some of you are saying about the media. My media has always been print and the folks I know are quite honorable.

  25. #25
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    Default

    CNN=Clinton News Network

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