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Why the Mainstream Media Lost Public Trust

According to Frank Rich, the mainstream media has lost the trust of the public because…

“Infotainment has reached a new level of ubiquity in an era in which “reality” television and reality have become so blurred that it’s hard to know if ABC news special investigating “American Idol” last week was real journalism about a fake show or fake journalism about a real show or whether anyone knows the difference – or cares. This is business as usual in a culture in which the Michael Jackson trial is re-enacted daily on cable and the most powerful television news franchises, the morning triumvirate of “Today” and its competitors, now routinely present promotional segments about their respective networks’ prime-time hits as if they were news. “

But according to Daniel Okrent…

“… use of anonymous sources has been the substantive issue raised most often by readers. They challenge the authenticity of quotations. They question the accuracy of the information in the quotations. They believe reporters who invoke unidentified sources are lazy or, far worse, dishonest. As Leonard Wortzel of Atlanta wrote, “Whenever I come across a phrase like ‘according to a high-ranking official,’ I translate it to mean, ‘I, the reporter, will now state my opinion and disguise it as news.”

Another reason, at least when it comes to broadcast journalism, is because of the way they use voice overs to translate what non-English speakers have to say, to try and influence your reaction to the “news.” On 60 minutes tonight, they interviewed Yelstin, who spoke in Russian, and used an English speaking voice with a heavy Russian accent for voice over translation. It’s usually really easy to tell whether or not CBS News believes what a foreign speaker is saying on 60 Minutes by the voice they use for translation, and the way they direct the person reading the voice over.

For PR Pros, the lesson is, if your foreign speaking client agrees to go on 60 Minutes, stipulate that after a mutually approved English transcript has been created from the interview, that your client have the right to provide the voice that will read the dialogue over your clients image. It’s only fair that the person being interviewed should have the chance to choose the English speaking voice that communicate their words.

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