Friday, February 4, 2011

News Anchors In Egypt – Informing or Inflaming?

With protests increasing in Egypt and an all out revolt in progress, some of the big news outlets sent their own “big guns” in order to cover the story in person. Brian Williams and Lester Holt (NBC), Katie Couric (CBS), Anderson Cooper (CNN) all headed in to the heart of the matter in order to bring the story to viewers.

They were not greeted with open arms, instead they were greeted with hostility. Katie left the country soon after, the others quickly ran for cover in their hotels, covering the stories from balconies and building rooftops in safety.

The big questions are – what value is there in sending the network anchors into the heart of a massive protest? Does it make a difference if they cover the story from a rooftop in safety or from their anchor desk in safety? What kinds of big scoops to they get while being there that an already embedded reporter and camera crew can’t already get? Does their presence give those that are protesting only more attention and he sense of more power, therefore adding more fuel to the fire? Is it a coincidence that as the news anchors appeared, the protests took an even more angry turn for the worse, with so called opposition protesters coming in to stir up more trouble and venting the hostilities toward the media?

This should be a teachable moment for the networks. Keep your big salaried and probably costly to insure news anchors at home, and let the people who work the area normally cover the story. And make no mistake, stories like this are very important and must be covered. But the news anchors don’t need to be part of the story themselves. The story can still be covered thoroughly without sending high priced news anchors - who usually sit at a desk reading a teleprompter - to make the trip into the heart of trouble. The uprising in Egypt is about freedom, not about news ratings!

All Original Text Content © unless otherwise noted

Check out my blog home page for the latest information, The Frequent Critic, here.