TV News Reference

Who Do You Trust?

Should you speak to a TV reporter?

The idea of being on the TV news can be both exciting and intimidating. In many cases, it is not an easy decision to make. You may like the idea of seeing yourself on TV. You get to be "famous" for a bit. But TV news can be harmful to you and your community. Here’s how:

- Reporters may ask personal questions that may make you or your family look bad.

- TV newscasts seek short one-minute or less stories and are often looking for “sound bites” or sensational statements or images to attract an audience. They may play only a fragment of what you say and not put your statement in context. For example, if a reporter asks, "Did you know your neighbors were using drugs?" can be a difficult question to answer. The reporter may be guessing about drug use. By asking a leading question, he or she is directing your answer so that it focuses on drug use, when there may be other important issues such as police protection.

- If it is a crime story, your statement could influence how police and the suspect respond. Sometimes police prefer witnesses to not speak to the media, believing that publicity may harm their investigation.


On the other hand, there are benefits to speaking to the TV news:

- A targeted, brief message can reach thousands of people at once and can influence how they perceive and think about an issue or a community.

- In crime situations, police may want to publicize the description of a suspect or crime, in order to get tips that will solve the crime.


In each case, you need to
weigh the pros and cons before deciding to go “on camera.” If you do an interview, it is helpful to prepare, to anticipate the kinds of questions you will be asked, and to think about how to respond to send a clear message.

For more information on how TV news works, read an article by a TV insider: http://www.tfs.net/~gbyron/tvnews6.html

For more on how to speak to reporters, click here.


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