Sunday, August 05, 2007

Ethical lapses raise musical question: That's Info-Tainment?

The latest lapses in journalistic integrity make me wonder just how much more blurry the line between info and 'tainment can get....XXL magazine editor-in-chiefElliott Wilson is depicted in an ad for RocaWear. Does this cross an ethical line? Wilson in Folio magazine sez:
“Bottom line, this is a one-time only ad. I’m not wearing Rocawear clothes in it and I wasn’t compensated for it,” Wilson says in an interview with Folio:. “While other ads in their campaign will be all over the place, this one will only be seen on the cover of XXL.”


Paul Conley (a friend from my Corante days, and a real ethics watchdog)blogged about the ad in question and notes the reaction of ASME executive director Marlene Kahan: "No person on an editorial staff should ever be involved in producing or participating in advertising." Conley also notes how the ASME still won't weigh in on the IntelleTXT ad issue...

But it all raises the question as to why Wilson might pose in a RocaWear ad....because his presence in the ad would be visually read as an endorsement of the product vs. perhaps a "thank you" for RocaWear's support of XXL...

Meanwhile, on the Left Coast, Los Angeles Antonio Villaraigosa 'fessed up to having an affair with Telemundo journalist Mirthala Salinas...who *then* reported on the confession on her Telemundo broadcast! Wow! talk about ovarios! Salinas was then suspended(well, duh!)....

And in another wonderful case of reverse gotcha! journalism, NBC Dateline reporter Michelle Madigan is busted trying to get the goods on hackers at DefCon 15....

Dateline's also being sued by the relatives of a Texas prosecuter who committed suicide by getting caught up in one of their "To Catch A Preditor" stings. I don't know about you, but after the first "To Catch a Preditor" the whole thing began to sound an awful lot like Kevin Costner in JFK saying "back...and to the left" over and over again....I just wanted to scream "make it stop! make it stop!" There didn't seem to be any merit to what Dateline was doing week after week, and it called into question the role of journalism in capturing criminals, if journalism should *ever* have a role in these acts--and if journalists could possibly be compelled by overzealous law enforcement to comply with "sting" operations. We've heard about this on the national level with Washington, but Dateline's "stings" showed journalism being used by local law enforcement. How long could it be before local journalists are compelled by overzealous local law enforcement to comply "for the public good"? That, IMO, is darned scary...

So, think about it: how far are we willing to go for info-tainment? Where's the line? It seems clear in the Salinas case, not so clear in the Wilson case, and perhaps we're finally seeing a bit of just desserts in the Dateline case. Ah, if it were that easy....not while FoxNews is still on the air...

2 comments:

zenyenta said...

The Dateline/Predator thing is truly creepy. I caught a few of them on MSNBC when leaving the TV on after the talking heads shows were over. It's not journalism when you create the event and it's sure not entertainment.

Tish Grier said...

geeze, I never thought of the angle that it's not journalism if you're creating the event! oh, that makes Dateline's "To Catch a Predator" stuff even more specious.

Catching predators is an important thing--but it really shouldn't be filmed and re-packaged as either investigative journalism (which it isn't) or as entertainment (which it isn't either.) Pointing fingers at someone else's (rather serious)problems is, IMO, kind of like watching a lynching. ugh.