Thursday, January 19, 2006

Begging Some Suck-Up When The Media Gets Suckered

Employing his usual sardonic method, Nashville Scene reporter John Spragens took his aim off of Pedro Garcias this week and drew a bead on Police Chief Ronal Serpas:
Now, to be fair, we don’t necessarily disagree with Serpas’ philosophical critique of the cash-strapped, sensation-driven news media [which Serpas made at an Officers Association conference last fall]. But coming from a guy who’s never met a camera he didn’t like—the guy whose first action as Nashville police chief was to hold a press conference with the grieving family of a long-missing teen—well, it rings a little hollow.
Ostensibly, this sounds like a critique of Serpas, but if this really is the wag-the-dog indictment it seems to be, then who is to blame for a press that uncritically provides photo ops for government officials who live and die on photo ops?

We expect public relations from administrators. We expect a press that in the words of former CBS reporter Tom Fenton "punches holes" in public relations before and in the act. Spragens seems to be sniping after a non-issue: Serpas is guilty of both acting like an administrator--not like a reporter--and criticizing reporters. What other option would Spragens have? That Serpas owes the "fourth estate" some kind of quid-pro-quo suck-up because of all that they do for him? That's just silly. Spragens, perhaps unwittingly, has only indicted his own guild: it is nobody's fault but their own when they allow themselves to be tools in some public relations pitch.

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