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How News Works

Subtitled: "The World According To Ron Burgundy's Understudy". Observe:
Here’s the formula. Highly trained Anchorman (booming authoritative, focus-group-tested voice at the ready) or better yet, Anchorwoman (compassionate voice and pouty face, furrowed brow at the ready), reads the headline, tosses to reporter. Hyperventilating reporter further frightens with victim sound bite, followed by sound bite from plaintiff attorney (”This poor victim needs to be compensated.”). Followed by politician sound bite (”I’m introducing legislation …”) followed by reporter tag, which may or may not include response from big, bad, deep-pocketed corporation. Interestingly, that last component — the response from the corporate evildoers, often becomes, in my experience, a throwaway part of many stories — something along the lines of, “The XYZ company denies any wrongdoing.” Or even, “The XYZ company was unavailable for comment at news time.”

I’ve even noted a pattern among some media-savvy trial attorneys. Often, they’ll fax or e-mail a press release of a pending lawsuit or action to newsrooms on Friday afternoons — enough time for a reporter to get a camera crew, head to the law office, get the sound bite for the evening deadline, but not enough time for the deep-pocketed corporation, with it’s multi-layered media information office, often located in a distant city, to respond before deadline time. So, the story airs, unchallenged, with the charges stewing and brewing over the weekend. The corporation is sucker-punched, feeding frenzy gains steam, politicians take note. Damage is done, forcing corporation to consider out-of-court settlement, sparing them more bad publicity, but most importantly, sparing the plaintiff attorney all of that hard work of trial preparation, but with an easy payoff .
Call me old-fashioned or naive, but I think that this particular anchorman is generalizing his experience -- or at least embellishing the perception of the 'overly-liberally-biased newsroom'.

Granted, I think that newsrooms (both local and national) over-hype things on a regular basis (H1N1 anyone?) -- but as I've argued many times in the past, it's not a huge George-Soros-led-conspiracy to make America a more liberal nation. Sheesh.

I've reached out to a friend of mine who is, in fact, a local news anchorman (I'm connected like that). When he responds, I will update this post with his thoughts.