Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Capitalism and Journalism

CBS really irked me this week. Nearly a month ago Captain "Sully" Sullenberger crash-landed a plane with 155 people on board into the Hudson River in NY. Naturally, the whole crew was under a gag order while the incident was under investigation.

As soon as the gag order was lifted, CBS signed exclusive rights to the story. No one else was allowed to interview the Captain or crew until CBS aired their interview on 60 minutes. They sat on that interview for nearly two weeks before airing it this past Sunday before the Grammy awards.

Clearly, the network was hoping to sweep viewers from the interview into the Grammy show, and vice versa. I think they failed, and serves them right. Personally, I had been looking forward to both the Grammies and the Sullenberger interview. But the two did not fit together very well. After watching 45 minutes of the coverage of what happened when Sully's plane lost both engines, CBS cut to Scott Pelley interviewing the band Cold Play. How obtuse.

How many viewers really stayed on to watch pretentious musicians prancing around stage after the seriousness of hearing family after family thank the Captain for saving their lives, for not making them a widow, for saving the lives of wives, husbands, brothers, sons?

Personally, I couldn't stomach the awards show afterwards, and shut off the TV.

As Captain Sullenberger said when Katie asked him about being a hero, "I think everyone just wants some good news-something to feel good about."

CBS, you have a lot of nerve keeping that good news to yourselves for two weeks! The excuse of scabbing together different interviews with the crew and families-who cares? It stunk! It would have been much better to immediately release the special exclusive interview with Sullenberger following the standard evening news-instead of that 2 1/2 men trash-and then follow-up with the other interview parts as they became available.

When alternated between Sullenberger's description of the landing, some of the crew stories seemed embarassing. Especially the stewardess that isn't wearing her uniform. The facts came out that "a passenger pushed by her and opened the rear door and water came flooding in," left this viewer wondering if someone (her) really bombed at doing her duty that day, especially in comparison to the real hero.

Her story would have seemed much less embarassisng if it was given its own airtime at a later date.

CBS, I hope this was a one time misjudgment on your part to withhold news from the public and sit on it until it is financially benficial for your network. Journalism should seek to inform the public, not fill your pocketbook.

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