The Exponent and the Rights of Journalists

Concerning the Exponent incident, Michael Carney was well within his rights to film the incident he encountered. However, I think this issue comes down to respect. This incident was not a hard-hitting news story, although Carney might have been unaware of that at the time. It was simply a woman who had fainted and was in need of assistance. This is not news. For Carney to cause such a big fuss when the incident is hardly newsworthy is simply annoying. The press endures its fair share of legal issues, but I think it’s important to pick your battles. In this case, the police officer, although he may have been intimidating, did not physically hurt Carney nor did he make a big scene. In my opinion, the Exponent had no reason to file formal complaints with both departments. This matter could have been resolved through conversation.

I think the Exponent tried to be impartial when covering this story by addressing both sides of the issue and taking comments from people who thought Carney was right and was wrong. However, the reporter doesn’t mention the other side (the side that indicates Carney may have been in the wrong) until the 13th paragraph. I think the fact that there is a debate arising over what happened should have been addressed earlier in the article. Since most people will only read the first couple paragraphs of this story because it is so long, most will walk away assuming that the story simply confirmed Carney’s right to film in a public place and that the police officer was in the wrong in this situation. Also, the reporter designates three paragraphs to the statement made by the Exponent while the statement from the police is only allotted a few sentences.

The second article does a better job acknowledging the debate upfront, however, it only reports on Carney’s “side.” Only in the very last paragraph does the reporter mention someone else’s opinion saying Carney may have acted poorly in the situation. I think the quotes the reporters chose to include and the organization of both articles prove the Exponent’s inability to be impartial in this situation although it was well-attempted.

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February 2011

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