This is my story of what happened when I was told a local NBC TV station wanted to do a balanced story on the issue of the "gun show loophole". Loaded language if there ever was. I had my strong misgivings about doing this, but we did not want the station to announce the pro-gun side was unwilling to discuss what the media considers an "indefensible position". My intitial concerns proved quite true. Facts were pretty much ignored and what was said taken out of context. A thirty minute interview turned into a seven second sound bite in a four minute piece that might as well have been produced by Sarah Brady herself. This is my story about how some will abuse their First Amendment freedom to destroy our Second Amendment freedoms.
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Harry Paget Flashman
November 23, 2007, 11:37 AM
And you were expecting "fair and balanced"? :rolleyes:
Thanks for speaking up though. That was good citizenship in action.
November 23, 2007, 11:41 AM
The reporter is clearly a "truebeliever"; he has downed the Kool-Aid. I always cringe when I hear the "If it saves one life" argument. According to some studies, possibly one million or more people use a gun each year to defend themselves. One could argue "if it saved one life" wouldn't it be better to ease gun prohibitions in places like New York City and Washington D.C.? But we never hear that -- all we hear is about how gun restrictions will "save one life."
But if Washington and New York are to be used as examples, might we not justifiably argue that gun bans kill more people than they save?
Who taught that author economics, anyway ... "Wrong Way" Corrigan????
You did a good thing Gopguy ... the outcome was preordained long before your interview though. The guy had already made up his mind. You can't change it. That would require brain surgery......;)
November 23, 2007, 01:15 PM
We should put computer-controlled traffic lights on every dirt-road intersection in the United States.
If it saves one life....
November 23, 2007, 01:20 PM
We should lower the speed limits on interstate highways to 35 MPH.
If it saves one life....
November 23, 2007, 01:34 PM
Outlaw automobiles altogether. You will save LOTS of lives...
November 23, 2007, 01:42 PM
Well, heart disease is the number one killer in America, outlaw food.
November 23, 2007, 02:45 PM
Idiots in the media may say stupid things. Repeal the 1st amendment. If it saves one life...
November 23, 2007, 06:01 PM
Do you make a copy of the interview yourself or could you get one (in its entirety) from the station? If so, why not post it on YouTube or LiveLeak or to the station's competition?
November 23, 2007, 06:32 PM
Bravo on a well written article. I hope the truth gets out. No wonder alternative media is getting so popular.
November 23, 2007, 06:38 PM
Doing a 30 minute interview and only giving them 7 seconds they could spin is a VERY good showing. Congrats, and I'm not joking. Few of us could have done as well.
The only reason they asked to interview you was in hopes they you'd give them some ugly sound bytes to use. I agree with your reason for agreeing to the interview but... well, they've zapped a bunch of people with that trick.
Anyway, good job.
November 23, 2007, 07:31 PM
gopguy, the next time they ask you, "Wouldn’t it be worth making everyone at a gun show go through a background check if it would save one life?" maybe answer it is impossible to know they would not find other means to commit the murder anyway so the question is moot.
A life may not be taken by someone using a gun bought directly at a gun show by that murderer, but they are still fully capable of murderering their victim without a gun and preventing the gun show purchases will not have saved that one life as a result.
Good job not falling for the "have you stopped beating your wife yet" type of loaded trick question anyway though.
November 23, 2007, 07:40 PM
We'll take one step at a time, and the first is necessarily -given the political realities - very modest. We'll have to start working again to strengthen the law, and then again to strengthen the next law and again and again. Our ultimate goal, total control of hand-guns, is going to take time. The first problem is to slow down production and sales. Next is to get registration. The final problem is to make possession of all handguns and ammunition (with a few exceptions) totally illegal.
Once in a great while, those who hate freedom speak frankly.
November 23, 2007, 08:00 PM
Go go at it. Perhaps the next time this happens you could request something in return. . . . . say a trip by the reporter to a range where some serious education can be imparted. Nothing like real life hands on touchy-feely to counter deep seated propaganda.
November 23, 2007, 08:09 PM
Well, heart disease is the number one killer in America, outlaw food.
Hate to inform you but it's already been done. Surely you've heard both NYC and Philadelphia have already banned trans fats from its restaurants?
This organization is the reason Oreo and Lorna Doone cookies now taste like cardboard.
Their next goal is a statewide ban on trans fats in all of - you guessed it - California.
November 23, 2007, 09:05 PM
The Journalist's Guide to Gun Violence Coverage
Guns are a sad fact of life in American culture and are a major topic in modern journalism. A good Journalist has a duty to get involved and make a difference in this important societal debate. By following certain guidelines, the concerned Journalist can be assured of having the maximum impact on this shameful problem.
The first principle to remember is that subtle use of terminology can covertly influence the reader. Adjectives should be chosen for maximum anti-gun effect. When describing a gun, attach terms like "automatic," "semi-automatic," "large caliber," "deadly," "high powered," or "powerful". Almost any gun can be described by one or more of these terms. More than two guns should be called an "arsenal".
Try to include the term "assault weapon" if at all possible. This can be combined with any of the terms above for best results. Nobody actually knows what anody actually knows what an assault weapon is, so you cannot be criticized for this usage. Your local anti-gun organization can provide you with a list of the latest buzz words like "junk guns," "Saturday Night Specials," and "the criminal's weapon of choice".
Don't worry about getting technical details right. Many a reporter has accidentally written about semi-automatic revolvers or committed other minor errors. Since most people know little about guns, this is not a problem. Only the gun nuts will complain and they don't count. The emotional content of your article is much more important than the factual details, since people are more easily influenced through their emotions than through logic.
Broadcast Journalists should have a file tape showing a machine gun firing on full automatic. Run this video while describing "automatic" weapons used in a crime or confiscated by police. At the least, a large graphic of a handgun should be displayed behind the on-air personality when reading any crime story.
Do not waste words describing criminals who use guns to commit crimes. Instead of calling them burglar, rapist, murderer, or repeat offender, simply use the term "gunman". This helps the public associate all forms of crime and violence with the possession of guns.
Whenever drug dealers are arrested, guns are usually confiscated by the police. Mention the type and number of guns more prominently than the type and quantity of drugs. Include the number of rounds of ammunition seized, since the number will seem large to those who know little about guns. Obviously, the drug dealers who had the guns should now be called "gunmen".
Political discussions on gun control legislation usually involve pro-gun organizations. Always refer to these organizations as "the gun lobby". If space permits, mention how much money the gun lobby has spent to influence political campaigns and describe their legislative lobbying efforts as "arm twisting" or "threats".
Gun owners must never be seen in a positive light. Do not mention that these misguided individuals may actually be well educated, or have respectable jobs and healthy families. They should be called "gun nuts" if possible or simply gun owners at best. Mention details about their clothing, especially if they are wearing hunting clothes or hats. Mention the simplistic slogans on their bumper stickers to show that their intelligence level is low. Many gun owners drive pickup trucks, huntkup trucks, hunt and live in rural areas. Use these details to help portray them as ignorant rednecks. Don't use the word "hunt". Always say that they "kill" animals.
Don't be afraid to interview these people, they are harmless even though we don't portray them that way. Try to solicit comments that can be taken out of context to show them in the worst possible light.
Never question the effectiveness of gun control laws or proposals. Guns are evil and kill people. Removing guns from society can only be good. Nobody really uses guns for legitimate self-defense, especially women or children. Any stories about armed self-defense must be minimized or suppressed.
Be careful about criticizing the police for responding slowly to 911 calls for help. It is best if the public feels like the police can be relied upon to protect them at all times. If people are buying guns to protect their families, you are not doing your job.
Emphasize stories where people kill family members and/or themselves with guns. It is important to make the public feel like they could lose control and start killing at any moment if they have a gun in the house. Any story where a child misuses a gun is front page material.
View every shooting as an event to be exploited. Always include emotional quotes from the victim's family if possible. If they are not available, the perpetrator's family will do nicely. The quote must blame the tragedy on the availability of guns. Photos or video of grieving family members are worth a thousand facts. Most people will accept the assertion that guns cause crime. It is much easier than believing that some people deliberately choose to harm others.
Your story should include terms like "tragic" or "preventable" and mention the current toll of gun violence in your city or state. Good reporters always know exactly how many gun deaths have occurred in their area since the first of the year. List two or three previous incidents of gun violence to give the impression of a continuing crime wave.
Little space should be devoted to shootings where criminals kill each other. Although these deaths greatly inflate the annual gun violence numbers, they distract from the basic mission of urging law abiding citizens to give up their guns. Do not dig too deeply into the reasons behind shootings. The fact that a gun was involved is the major point, unless someone under 18 is affected, in which case the child angle is now of equal importance.
Any article about gun violence should include quotes from anti-gun organizations or politicians. One quote should say that we must do something "for the children". Anti-gun spokespersons should be called "activists" or "advocates". If your employer wishes to appear unbiased, you can include one token quote from a gun lobby group to show that you are being fair. The anti-gun statements should be accepted as fact. The gun lobby statement can be denigrated by including text like, "according to gun lobbyist Jones."
Fortunately, statements from anti-gun organizations come in short sound bites that are perfect for generating an emotional response in the reader or viewer. Gun lobby statements usually contain boring facts that are easy to ignore.
Feel secure in your advocacy journalism. The vast majority of your fellow Journalists support your activism. The nation will be a better place when only the police and military have guns. Remember that you are doing it for the children so the end justifies the means.
Eventually, the government will have a monopoly on power. Don't worry about the right to freedom of the press, just contact me then for more helpful hints.
Professor Michael Brown
School of Journalism, Brady Chair
, Brady Chair
Vancouver College of Liberal Arts
Political Satire, copyright 1999, Michael Brown. May be reproduced freely in its full and complete form. The author may be contacted at email@example.com.
November 24, 2007, 01:52 AM
The media serves at least one usefull purpose for society. It serves as a
lodestone for the intellectually challenged. If you are incapable of rational thought. If you cannot come to a logical conclusion based upon empiric evidence never fear.....we have a job for you! Become a journalist, you to can write meaningless drivel and useless fluff. Become famous ( or infamous)
without the need for intelligence, thought or even an IQ.
November 24, 2007, 11:10 AM
Truth... is a perception. What IS a "balanced report", after all? :rolleyes:
Advocacy journalism is now the norm it would seem. While I do not favor it unless it's pro individual rights slanted (and even then approach it warily) you've got to figure if it's going to be broadcast in a half hour TV news broadcast they might actually have 90 seconds of airplay total to get a story line across (4 minutes in your case). A little more time for radio (maybe) and print can range on column inch space available spacing it around advertisements.
Investigative reports, such as the one you were a willing participant in... well... he who edits is he who shapes and tells the story he wishes to share. Everyone else is but a mere pawn to be used then discarded.
I'm sure there was probably enought footage available to tell 12 different viewpoints of 4 minutes each if they so chose.
Is there a lesson to be learned here? Probably. Several.
I might not agree with the media's message... and I might not, at all times, agree to defend the media's right to say it... which is probably wrong on my part. At least they are only slightly regulated by various governmental agencies in telling their tales as opposed to "totally" regulated. If that were the case, I'd ignore them completely.
But you were a better man than I in trying to share, tell and defend a point of view that we consider important against great odds and a stacked deck.
November 25, 2007, 12:14 AM
As you noted, if implementing some new gun control law may cost one life, isn't it worth refraining from passing it?
November 25, 2007, 01:22 AM
According to the National Institute of Health, about 1,500 children drown in the Unites States each year. Among infants, the majority (78 percent) of drownings occurred in the home, primarily in bathtubs.