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Bypassing Law Enforcement To Get a Story

Reported by Eleanor - July 24, 2004 -

John Kasich on Heartland (July 24, 8:00 p.m.) got a little ahead of the story about Lori Hacking, the missing Utah girl. Fox reported in a news alert at the beginning of the program that the Hacking apartment had been cleaned and blood was found.

Later in the broadcast, at 7:31, Dwayne Baird, the Salt Lake City Police Chief, came on and criticized Fox for using information that did not come from the police department. The reports and tests are not back. He accused Fox of reporting unsubstantiated information. "Where did you get that information about blood?" Kasich replied that Fox reporters got the information from sources inside the police department. Baird was obviously upset that Fox would use information not coming from official sources. To their credit, Fox did talk to the police chief instead of ignoring him.

Kasich asked if the police department had found blood inside the apartment, and Baird replied that he is not free to discuss police work until tests come back.

Comment: It appeared that Fox had people inside the police department that bypassed official sources in order to be the first to get information about this local story that has been hyped into a national 24 hour a day news scandal.

My opinion of this type of story is and has been that covering the story at all is totally inappropriate. Hundreds of people die, disappear and are murdered every day in this country in strange ways. It's almost always a local story to be handled by local authorities and local media. To make any of these stories a national story with the latest developments reported every 15 minutes is a scandal in itself. It takes away any pretense of professionalism and good judgment and replaces them with frantic nationwide gossip mongering, speculation and half truths that feed the base desires of shallow people who like to see and hear about the blood and gore in one minute sound bites. It hurts grieving families, and it creates problems with the justice system, including crippling our ability to conduct a fair trial. If past performance of the media is any indication, this will turn into another two year media event. That's despicable.

Such is the American news media of the 21st century, a national soap opera played out daily to feed the shallow and the ignorant in exchange for profit, while ignoring huge, real stories of human suffering of thousands like the tragedy taking place in Sudan. That is the sort of real news that should be covered every 15 minutes.