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Morning Whip, 3/21/05

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The Whip The Story That Wasn't: Anti-Iraq War protests fizzle coast to coast. Crowds in anti-Bush bastions like San Francisco and New York are reported in the hundreds. CNN gamely titles their story "Thousands of protesters mark Iraq war anniversary" anyway. In the text of the story, "about a thousand" protesters marched in Chicago, but in the photo caption, this gets transformed into "thousands."

Nice spin, CNN.

In a related story, the press is in a tizzy about Video News Releases --government-produced video clips that are presented by the news media as internally-produced news features ("stop me before I drink again!") This article amusingly mentions Sunshine Week, a press-backed program to promote open government. Fair enough, there's plenty of needless government secrecy to expose. It seems however that the problem with the VNR's isn't so much government secrecy, but press secrecy. How about a Sunshine Week to promote open press? Media Research Center, anyone? (OK, I've now completely alienated any center- to left-leaning readers, if I hadn't done that already).

Conveniently enough, a behind-the-scenes-in-the-newsroom article is on Poynter.org entitled The Day I Shadowed A Reporter wherein a TV producer finds out what it's like on the mean streets for beat reporters. Sample:
We did spend most of the day in the car, driving around searching for interviews and information. We were covering a story about a potentially dangerous man who was robbing flower shops and preying on women. The safe environment of the newsroom was gone. Now we were out with the public. The walls that once closed in on me seemed more like a security blanket, protecting me from the problems and concerns of the people. I was now standing in places this suspect had been, and it was a chilling reality that made me understand the job of a reporter was more than just telling a story; reporters are advocates for the community, too.I thought producers started at the bottom and worked their way up, Lou Grant-fashion. I guess not.

Shifting our attention, we turn to the Tragedy-Into-Farce department where we have a Bo Gritz sighting in the Terri Schiavo affair. (This should do the trick to alienate the right wing, leaving me with no readers whatsoever. Hey, it works for South Park!)