When is a TV news report actually news coverage and when does it become advocacy? Blogs of this sort are up-front about their role as advocates for a political philosophy. Local news stations, however, are expected to report on the news, not push a political position. So where on the spectrum does this KMOV report on the upcoming astro-turf “Tea-Party” protest fall?
The report’s content is carefully phrased, but it certainly seemed like the reporters were inviting viewers to come out and join up. We expect this from Fox Cable News which has been working double-time to insure that this protest does not fizzle like the last one, but how should we react when our local news stations, which most viewers believe to be neutral, blur the distinction between journalism and advocacy?
If KMOV’ reporters are simply reporting on an upcoming event, why don’t they mention the controversy surrounding the corporate origins of the Tea Parties? Why do they present a manufactured, highly partisan protest organized by radical fringe-groups as a grass-roots, non-partisan affair? When one of the organizers tries to equate the pain and frustration many are experiencing during this economic crisis with government spending, why doesn’t the reporter mention that many other people believe the stimulus spending might be the answer and not the problem? Isn’t that what fair reporting would seek to do?