"On the Media" calls it "Operating Theater" – MD-reporter discussion heats up

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The NPR program “On the Media” did a terrific job turning to several sources (including me) for analysis of the journalism ethics issues involved in TV network MD-reporters becoming part of the story while delivering care in Haiti.

Host Bob Garfield used these phrases and terms in describing the reporting in question:

• Gimmick
• Obscures and trivializes the news
• Obliterates any measure of objectivity
• Exploiting patients

You can listen to the entire segment here:

His ending:

“Or maybe the prime canon of medicine just needs an update: Do no harm. But first, roll the tape.”

It is surprising how much momentum this discussion gathered as the week wore on. Last night there was an explosion of activity on Twitter after CUNY prof and interactive media expert Jeff Jarvis posted a heated and simplistic series of rants against the Society of Professional Journalists, which had issued a statement urging Haiti reporters to remove themselves from their stories. Blogger Tyler Dukes captured Jarvis’ tirade and described it as “hyperbole and distortion,” continuing: “These are not the tools of a responsible journalist, but of a blowhard with an axe to grind.”

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Comments (6)

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Gregory D. Pawelski

January 23, 2010 at 9:15 pm

Very well done Gary. Thanks!

Gary Schwitzer

January 24, 2010 at 2:26 pm

Meantime, a BBC program discussed the topic – with analysts using such terms as “self-aggrandizing…distasteful…stunt” to describe reporters reporting on themselves in Haiti.
Segment begins about 7:30 deep on this download.

Steve Miles

January 26, 2010 at 10:11 am

John Travolta is flying his private jet to help out.
http://marquee.blogs.cnn.com/2010/01/25/john-travoltas-mercy-flight-to-haiti/?hpt=T2
Maybe the TV-docs could fly with him.
By the way, by being quoted as opposed to self glorifying TV docs running long segments about their heroic applications of bandages, I have now been called the worst person in the world on one blog. Move over Osama!