Review of the Art and Ethics of TV Manipulation at the NH Telephone Museum

So six months has gone by, and one of my drafts was a review of the New Hampshire Telephone Museum’s “Forth Phriday” event from last year. The wonderful people at the NHTM, Laura, Graham and Paul had speakers come in on the forth Friday of the summer months. The first one was from the infamous E9-1-1 department, and the last one was some guy out west in my state, and spoke for nearly an hour about the ethics of TV editing and manipulation.

The audience as usual coming here were older, and a bit liberal compared to your’s truly. In the middle of the discussion, someone said they do not watch any TV news at all. I guess they are an NHPR donor I suppose.

The format was going through multiple videos and often repeatedly. Now given my condition, you’d think I would catch onto something if it was repeated 3 times. In fact I wasn’t sure what to look for. The first example was some video presentation for some woman out west who won some social justice thing. (The only evidence I could notice it was from the left coast was the KPIX 5 mic flag from the late 1980s in a still photo in that video.) The elder people also felt the soundtrack (that “Fight Song” – whoever is behind that) was too strong and loud, but didn’t understand the context of that song was relevant for this woman who got some social justice award. Oh and they discussed the licensing of music and how that had something to do with it. This is now not even a situation of what is said in Las Vegas isn’t staying in Las Vegas for a discussion in the broadcast industry!

Another watch-three-times-and-see-whats-wrong was a scene in the 1989 Ken Burns documentary The Civil War not to be confused of a recently aired PBS documentary on World War I. Actually the 1989 airing was produced for a number of years going as far back as early 1987 the idea was floating, according to a local interest magazine I found in my grandmother’s stuff recently.

The assessing was how President Lincoln was shot. Knowing how overrated Burns’ content is of just moving a camera of a still picture and call it a “documentary”. I actually giggled when the auditory scene of him being shot and screams erupted because the footage was a drawing of the events leading up. It looked like a high schooler did the sketch, or should I use air-quotes.

The discussion at that point was this ethical, because it was from so long ago, and at what point does this draw between recreation, and creating a story?

The next case was a corporate video and selling a product, some document machine, of some sorts and how far would one go to sell a product if you put different parts together as one video that might make the machine not appear to work in the way it’s shown.

The last one was a snatched video from New England One, a great resource if you are a Boston area news geek with the interest of news formats, personalities, and other media news stuff that many used to be interested. That guy is out of the Providence DMA, but close enough to had recorded the second night of NBC Boston (now known as NBC 10) late night newscast.

Instead of finding anything positive, he went on the attack. NBC10 has actually been a decent news product finding local interest stories of New Hampshire (since part of the FCC license covers NH mind ya)

So he shows the first story on the A-block. I say it was bad timing. So open ended questions began and I raised my hand from the peanut gallery and said “a little bit sensational” and others were bothered by the sound effects (known in the industry as “stingers”) and other little things. The speaker really dug a nerve in me, being the inner broadcast journalist I stride to be in normal life. He used the five worst words in TV

  • A reader
  • a voice over (VO)
  • followed by sound on tape (SOT) or background audio that might had been chopped up by other clips
  • Packages (the infamous 90 seconds of news)
  • the Live shot – insulting the ENG community
  • that creates a lie`
  • And in cable news, the infamous panels

Also, he went to explain the B-roll and stated that B-roll is a visual confirmation to cover up shots, and it’s “used to cut something out that a reporter doesn’t like”

He went on to bash the teases of  “why can’t the station not tell you the Red Sox scores so you don’t have to wait till later”. Well Mister, I think I have the answer. Are you familiar with Bob Lobel? Or Mike Lynch? To them, they were or are assets to the news team, idiot. These guys have been an institution, and even if NBC 10/WBTS/WNEU/WYCN or even WHDH for that matter doesn’t have a strong sports anchor, they are following with the tradition.

Also telling the Red Sox scores passively on a bumper leading to the C Block would be something like no substance, just fluffy stuff that would counteract to your own argument. It’s like telling a story that doesn’t deserve any air time, and just making the news even more mediocre  because there isn’t enough meat or 10 seconds. This liberal dude apparently likes to consume fast food like content to be sure! Or is it the mountain air?

TV News is not perfect, and sure so many like to complain, even if they worked in the industry.

When I challenged him about the network news like the 6:30 shows, he didn’t understand my point of excessive use of visual effects you see in iMovie and wrote me off like I was talking about FNC, MSNBC, etc. By this point it was 8:04 and we were having to leave.

I’ll explain my real reason of why TV medium has abused their ethical standards in another post where the guy totally missed and a group of people getting shorted of real usable facts.