I’ve got a beef with the news industry.
It’s nearly impossible to find a news story that isn’t slanted by the reporter’s sense of morality - whatever it may be. And the decisions of what to feature on websites and broadcasts seem to be based more on sensationalism than professionalism. At my trusted BBC and Reuters sites, opinion is creeping into the headlines and the “news” content. At CNN they don’t even try to be subtle. Their entire business model is built upon clickbait: screaming TRUMP and SCANDAL, and placing opinion and innuendo prominently at the top of the page. MSNBC and Fox News are unapologetic apologists for particular points of view and are only useful if you’re looking for partisan talking points. Even the folks at NPR, who I believe to be well-intentioned, carefully choose their words to add a soft, left-leaning editorializing to their reporting, and use the tone of their voices to say more than the words themselves.
It has reached the point that I don’t trust any one news source to give me straight news, or even know what “news” is anymore, and so it was refreshing that I found this report on the recent racial tension and violence in Charlottesville.
Vice News had a camera crew and a reporter on-scene in Charlottesville and was present for much of the drama. They spent time with people on both sides. The camera footage was presented rather raw and lightly edited. The reporter spent time with people on both sides, asking uncomplicated questions, and letting them answer in their own words, which were remarkably candid. Statements were included in their entirety - not just soundbites or one-liners. It was the most honest reportage I have seen … probably in years. There was no need for the reporter to recap anything said in the interviews -they were clear enough.
Questions the viewer might have had were clearly answered - not by the presenter editorializing, but by the actions and words of the participants themselves. “Did the white nationalists come to Charlottesville looking for a fight?” Check out the sequence where Christopher Cantwell disarms in his hotel room after the rally - he was carrying three handguns and an assault rifle on his person, and had another rifle in the van. What about the guy who ran his car into the crowd? Watch the video and then hear Cantwell try to pass it off as self-defense. After watching the Vice report, I feel like I know exactly who these people are, and I know it from listening to their own words and observing their own actions.
I certainly don’t want to see any more incidents like Charlottesville, but I love the style of reporting that the Vice crew gave us. I didn’t feel like someone was telling me about what happened - I felt like I was there - and I applaud Vice for treating us - the viewers - with enough respect to allow us to draw our own conclusions.