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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Michael Mann’s 60 Minutes.

Speaking of journalistic ethics, I forgot about this “story.” I saw part of a new NBC show Monday called The Wanted. Didn’t know what it was at first but two people were in an interview talking about catching terrorists, shot in a style that looked as compelling as any good documentary or film.

Because of that dynamic, I didn’t immediately make the connection that it was 60 Minutes 2.0. In this case, it’s one topic covered for an entire season: Tracking down terrorists.

Once I knew what the show was about though, I felt a little let down. You expect a reporter to cover a story by staying out of the way and not becoming a lead actor in it. (Deadliest Catch does a better job in this regard. Host Mike Rowe’s voiceover helps define things and keep pace without him getting in the way of the actual stories.)

It’s not just that though, it’s more the notion of having to make most news stories sexy by using cinematic moves that distract, all because people won’t sit still for the same old same old?

Of course news is interesting when it has a compelling story to tell, but again, this is NBC pushing the newsfotainment line with a new approach that immerses the viewer.

Their recent strategy of massive product integration on shows and in the news is either going to pay off big, or be the thing that finally helps kill any discussion of news & ethics. (That, and the inevitable Apple and Pepsi logos in the New York Times masthead.)

Can’t blame just them though. While the Geraldo Riveras of the world have always been around, recreations of historical events have undergone radical changes since the slow zoom and pan days of PBS. Then Ken Burns added in sound effects to battle scenes and the rest is... history. (Ouch.)

The next iteration of News 2.0 had Scud Studs during Gulf War I jockeying for position amongst the evening news’ extended coverage. CNN also covered this re-imagining of the classic war correspondent, but there really were only so many Wolfs to go around. While others seemed more concerned with their look than what they were looking at.

Nowadays, amazing animations recreate historical events with NASA-like precision on any number of shows, so it’s probably natural to see some creep occur when it comes to influencing the news.

Which is what I suppose The Wanted ultimately does. It makes stories palatable for people needing important topics fed to them a certain way. (Man, would I LOVE to see what Renny Harlin would do with the issue of farm subsidies.) Don’t go by me though. I could just as easily watch a compelling segment on 60 Minutes as an episode of Deadliest Warriors.

Sometimes I even watch the news.

1 comment:

Vigilante said...

I didn't know anything about this show until I heard an interview of one of the actors Tuesday. I think this show is an idiot's idea. As an American, I am deeply embarrassed. If the show's producers want to find internationally famous unindicted war criminals, they don't have to go to Norway. They can find one of the top ten in Crawford, Texas.