This week’s “Crossroads” feature post is brought to you by the letter “A,” as in “Atlantic ocean.”
In other words, I am writing this while looking out a window at the Atlantic Ocean. I think this week’s podcast introduction will be a bit shorter than normal.
Oh, the podcast is the normal length (click here to tune that in) and it focuses on reports about an investigation into the basic facts of the Covington Catholic High School media storm. Here’s my previous post on that topic: “Private investigators: Confused Covington Catholics didn't shout 'build the wall' or act like racists.”
The main subject that host Todd Wilken and I discussed was the lessons that two groups of people — journalists and church leaders — could learn from that encounter between a bunch of Catholic boys, a circle of black Hebrew Israelites and Native American activist Nathan Phillips.
I hope that everyone learned to be a bit more patient when considering “hot take” responses to short, edited YouTube videos prepared by activist groups. That includes Catholic bishops, if and when they face withering waves of telephone calls from reporters (and perhaps other church leaders).
We may have a new reality here: When news events take place and lots of people are present, journalists (and bishops) can assume that there will be more than one smartphone video to study.
The stakes for journalists (and perhaps a few Hollywood pros) could be high. Consider this passage from my earlier post, focusing on What. Comes. Next.
… There’s an outside shot that legal scholars may be involved in future accounts of all this, depending on how judges and, maybe, some juries feel about journalists basing wall-to-wall coverage on short, edited videos provided by activists on one side of a complex news event. In the smartphone age, do journalists have a legal obligation — in terms of making a professional attempt to check basic facts — to compare an advocacy group’s punchy, edited YouTube offering with full-length videos from others?
Before someone asks: I feel exactly the same way about covert videos (think Planned Parenthood stings) by “conservative” activists. Nobody knows anything until the full videos are available to the press.
So, are journalists pausing to think about what happened in this Twitter-fueled train wreck of a story?