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February 19, 2008
Newspapers vs. TV: Part 1,398

Cranky newspaper reporters are forever kvetching about how vapid local TV types steal their stories and present them as their own enterprise work.

My TV news friends (yes, I do have one or two) explain it away three ways:

1. Don't think of it as stealing. It's recycling the story. Everybody wants to be green, you know.

2. It's not news until it's on TV.

3. Imitation is the sincerest form of cliche - or something like that.

I bring this up because there is a scathing column in the Amador Ledger, by Raheem Hosseini, upbraiding Channel 13 and Channel 3 for stealing stories. Headline: "The fine, dumb cannibals."


Here are two excerpts from the column:

"Last November, there was an alleged road rage incident in the Martell Business Park. Nobody was hurt, though the disagreement led to a man being processed on a number of minor charges - most of which have been dropped. The Ledger buried the story on A3, yet the next day CBS 13's slick-haired bloodhounds came sniffing at the ankles of our newspaper, begging for all the information we had on the case. We said no.

"That night, our dismay at their laziness was replaced by disgust at their bottom-feeding knack for sensationalism when they made the incident their lead story of the night - portraying it as a life-and-death scenario in which a 72-year-old man had attempted to sacrifice innocent shoppers on the altar of his car grill...."

And then there's this...

"A day after the Ledger's "A tale of two cities" came out, we were strolling down Main Street in Jackson when we glimpsed KCRA's frumpy Rich Ibarra looking confused as he lazily dangled a microphone from one arm. His rotund cameraman balanced a lens with one hand and sported a plumber's crack with the other. They had the appearance of lost souls.

"We questioned what they were doing in Jackson. Perhaps Ibarra felt put on the spot by meeting the very journalists whom he'd come to rip off - or maybe he was just too good to talk to newspapermen who didn't smear their faces with layers of foundation. Either way, his cameraman mumbled, 'We heard about problems with this Main Street being a depressed area.' Before we could answer, he blurted, 'This street doesn't look so bad; there are people all over the place.'

"We suggested that Jackson's economic issues were relevant to our community's newspaper, but hardly the stuff of regional headlines. The cameraman gave a jolly smile and admitted that he and Ibarra were really just looking for an excuse to take a nice drive through the foothills. Ibarra's sorry excuse for media flim-flamery aired on KCRA that night."

People, people. Can't we all just get along?

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