When Reporters Attack

I’ve always loved seeing reporters chase after people. Perp walks, defendants on their way into court, people trying to get to their cars or into their homes — it’s a TV news meme that never gets tired. In fact, I wish there were a channel that showed nothing but reporters hounding people. That’s something I’d watch.

Not that you get any good answers to the questions shouted out by the press.

Generally people don’t say anything, but that doesn’t stop reporters from trying. One time I saw video of a reporter yell to an accused murderer, “Why’d you do it.” That’s what’s known in the business as an open ended question.

But you never know, they might stop and talk. Or someone might say something nutty or toss out an F-bomb, which is always entertaining. In extreme cases they’ll try to get a piece of the reporter or photographer, which supplies priceless video that’s played over and over again. Either way, the spectacle of someone pursued by reporters is great video.

Here’s a real life example. When John Sweeney showed up at jail last week, WNYT’s Kumi Tucker was waiting with some questions:.

KT: Anything to say as you’re walking in?

JS: Nope.

KT: Are you still going to be sentenced next week?

JS: You’d have to call my lawyer.

KT: Why did you decide to come in early like this? Is it so you can get on with the rest of your life?

JS: That’s sort of the idea.

All we really learned about Mr. Sweeney is that he knows when to keep his yap shut. It makes for pretty ho-hum reading, but watch how much better it is with the video.

Have you ever seen someone so eager to get behind the jailhouse doors?

So what should you do when confronted by reporters? My advice is do what this guy did: run away.

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7 responses to “When Reporters Attack

  1. I love the “why’d you do it” questions, because I always hope the person being asked is a James Bond villain who will go on to reveal their elaborate master plan and the reasoning behind it.

  2. Samuel M Goldstein

    “I would’ve gotten away with it too if it wasn’t for these meddling kids, er reporters!”
    -Perp walk during any Scooby-Doo episode

    Hey can’t WNYT figure out how to de-interlace video before they put it on the web? (Sorry for the shop-talk question)

  3. From the headline, I thought there was cake in the newsroom- sorry, guess that is kind of an inside joke…

  4. @Sam: I am no expert on streaming video, but I’ll go out on a limb and answer NO.

    @PaulD: I once watched as they devoured an entire bowl of KranMar’s Delicious Mystery Appetizer in two minutes flat.

  5. The only things that comes to mind when I think of reporters, are microphones in bereaved faces after tragedies with, “So how do you feel?” questions. And Princess Di, mangled.

  6. @BL: Good point. I don’t understand why anybody who’s having a bad time — like experiencing a personal loss or crisis — would ever talk to a TV reporter.

    Princess Di was more about our cult of celebrity than anything. Nobody learned anything from that.

  7. When I was a grunt at a daily somewhere in upstate NY, I used to hate having to call bereaved families…hated it. The editors would always rationalize it with the “but this is their opportunity to tell people what a (great/caring/smart/dynamic/you supply the adjective) person X was.”

    Which does not ring entirely untrue. Unfortunately, no matter how sensitive one might be as a reporter, no matter how carefully one crafts such a tale, somebody – family member or friend – will be EXTREMELY unhappy with the story, because you forgot something, or something they thought was REALLY IMPORTANT got cut by an editor, or you had his high school class wrong. It’s an absolute can’t-win for the poor schlep reporter, and one reason I am so glad that paid obits are becoming the norm…that way, the family can say EXACTLY what they want about their departed beloved.

    There are occasions when chronicling the dead really does serve a higher purpose, such as the great job the NYT did on the victims of 9/11…but by and large, for the single accident victim-type story, I’ve always thought it intrusive. And TV really can’t do it justice at all. Just not the right medium.

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