Things to do in Sacramento and Beyond

The Bee's guide to events, activities, arts and entertainment

March 4, 2008
News10 comes clean on nonexclusive 'exclusive'

Screen shot from News10's "exclusive" story

I'm shocked - shocked! - to learn that local TV news outlets sometimes lift stories from newspapers and then try to pass them off as "exclusives."

OK, enough sarcasm.

What truly surprised me was that News10 had the fortitude to admit it should not have used an "exclusive" graphic on a recent story out of Stockton; it later removed the word from the story on its Web site.

(Here's another peeve that I see occasionally on Sac TV news: Using the "breaking news" graphic when the news actually broke hours ago and a reporter is doing a standup in front of a mostly deserted crime scene. But that's a rant for another time....)

Anyway, News10 assistant news director Michael Langley, who pulls no punches in his blog postings and often talks about the station's decision-making, issued a mea culpa in his latest entry.

(Since News10's blogs do not provide linking to individual posts, I'm pasting Langley's post below. Langley's prose is in italics; the viewer's comments are in quotation marks.)

Blog On This...
I have always maintained that I will post within this space the good, the bad and the questionable. Today, we have the bad, as illustrated by Bryan who sent me an email (the title of this post is the subject line of his email) about a story on this weekend.

"I'd like to know your station's policy on the use of 'exclusive.' My guess is your staff strayed from that policy this weekend, on at least a couple of levels.

"I logged on to your web site to find an 'exclusive' label placed on a story about a Stockton mother who lost her young son to violence and was now moving out of town.

"What made this exclusive? I read several newspapers a day and saw this story on the front page of the Stockton Record newspaper. All you did was steal the idea and put it on TV. So how is that exclusive?"

Bryan, thank you for calling us on this. You're right. We called something exclusive that was not. We failed in a couple of ways in part because of our zeal for the story, the powerful emotion displayed by the mother we interviewed and my own failure to question that fact when it was reported to me.

"Exclusive" is one of those words in journalism that you cannot use lightly. It still means something to our audience and our misuse will erode a) the impact of truly exclusive content, and b) our credibility as a news organization.

Bryan goes on to add that putting the "exclusive" tag on this story exploited this woman's pain. We agreed as we discussed this very thing this morning in our editorial meeting and took all reference off the story.

Bryan, and all, though we do not have an ombudsman I thank you for writing me. We will do better next time.

About Comments

Reader comments on are the opinions of the writer, not The Sacramento Bee. If you see an objectionable comment, click the "report abuse" button below it. We will delete comments containing inappropriate links, obscenities, hate speech, and personal attacks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. See more about comments here.

What You Should Know About Comments on is happy to provide a forum for reader interaction, discussion, feedback and reaction to our stories. However, we reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments or ban users who can't play nice. (See our full terms of service here.)

Here are some rules of the road:

• Keep your comments civil. Don't insult one another or the subjects of our articles. If you think a comment violates our guidelines click the "report abuse" button to notify the moderators. Responding to the comment will only encourage bad behavior.

• Don't use profanities, vulgarities or hate speech. This is a general interest news site. Sometimes, there are children present. Don't say anything in a way you wouldn't want your own child to hear.

• Do not attack other users; focus your comments on issues, not individuals.

• Stay on topic. Only post comments relevant to the article at hand. If you want to discuss an issue with a specific user, click on his profile name and send him a direct message.

• Do not copy and paste outside material into the comment box.

• Don't repeat the same comment over and over. We heard you the first time.

• Do not use the commenting system for advertising. That's spam and it isn't allowed.

• Don't use all capital letters. That's akin to yelling and not appreciated by the audience.

You should also know that The Sacramento Bee does not screen comments before they are posted. You are more likely to see inappropriate comments before our staff does, so we ask that you click the "report abuse" button to submit those comments for moderator review. You also may notify us via email at Note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us the profile name of the user who made the comment. Remember, comment moderation is subjective. You may find some material objectionable that we won't and vice versa.

If you submit a comment, the user name of your account will appear along with it. Users cannot remove their own comments once they have submitted them, but you may ask our staff to retract one of your comments by sending an email to Again, make sure you note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us your profile name.

hide comments

On October 14, The Sacramento Bee will temporarily remove commenting from While we design the upgrade, we encourage you to tell us what you like and don't like about commenting on and other websites. We've heard from hundreds of you already and we're listening. Please continue to add your thoughts and questions here. We also encourage you to write Letters to the Editor on this and other topics.


October 2013

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
    1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31    

Monthly Archives