The death of journalism
today at 12:22 pm
Fox news reporter blows a fantastic story at the Mexican border.
An “exclusive” Fox News report from the border this morning featured a couple from Central America illegally crossing the southern American border. The man was carrying their 4-year-old on his shoulders and she was checking her smart phone. They were carrying nothing else; they had no backpacks or anything else they’d need for such a long trek. All were dressed in regular clothes like you’d wear to go shopping.
The reporter said they had been walking for months well over 1,000 miles.
And yet, they looked like they had just come home from a stroll.
Did it not occur to the reporter to ask how the hell you managed to walk all those miles? Where’s the wear and tear? Where’s the luggage? Do you even have a change of clothes or did you walk all the way in the same underwear?
How did you eat? How did you feed the child? Did you carry him all the way? Where did you sleep? On the road; in the woods? Did you travel on top of a freight train, as is so often reported? Did anyone give you a ride? Did you get rained on?
And so forth.
My journalism 101 grade for this report? F-minus.
My reporter’s mind tells me that the big story here wasn’t just another family heading for the border. The bigger story is: How the hell did they get to the border?
Imagine if a couple and their little kid had walked across America. Imagine if they arrived at their destination looking clean, cheerful and without a blemish? That would be a story in itself. Here’s an amazing couple doing the seemingly impossible.
Would viewers want to know, how did they do it?
And so it goes with the tens of thousands of illegal immigrants marching from all points south, flooding the American border. Some are arriving in vans and buses. While waiting, they’re sheltering in tents. Where did they get the tents? Did someone give them to them? Did they carry them all the way?
The story goes beyond the individual heroics. There’s a larger story here about how they did it, because it sure doesn’t look like they hiked all the way without help.
Who helped them? The question screams for an answer. But none arrives. Was it an organization? A humanitarian one? A drug cartel? People on one side or the other of the political divide?
Whatever side you’re on regarding the illegal entry of thousands of immigrants who refuse to wait in line like the one million a year who enter the United States legally, you’ve got to wonder about the how-did-they-travel question. I can’t believe that I’m the only one asking. Certainly, Don Ross, my journalism professor at Marquette University, would have demanded that these questions be asked.
But that was way back in late 1950s and early 1960s when journalism was a profession.
The Death of Journalism II is here.