Monday, May 9, 2011

O’Keefe the Truth Thief

by Jalyssa Eliasen

Conservative activist James O’Keefe III claims that “his editing [is] no different from what other journalists do in crafting their stories.” This refers to his controversial footage posted online in early March, which “captured NPR's chief fundraising official Ron Schiller disparaging conservatives and the Tea Party and saying NPR would be better off without federal funding.”

Well I beg to differ with you, Mr. O’Keefe.

Bad Editing is Lying

According to David Folkenflik’s story Elements of NPR Gotcha Video Taken out of Context, “many of Schiller's remarks in that shorter video are presented out of sequence from the questions that were posed.”

This is very disturbing. If journalists edit interviewees’ answers out of order to certain questions, it is lying. Folkenflik’s article said it best: “There are two ways to lie…one is to tell me something that didn't happen, and the other is not to tell me something that did happen.” Since O’Keefe is employing the latter definition of lying in his editing, he is, in fact, lying. He is withholding contextual information, which is pertinent to the full understanding and truthfulness of Schiller’s statements.

Bad Editing is Lazy

What O’Keefe’s editing of this original 2-hour long video is is journalistic laziness at its prime. He is resorting to technological shortcuts to curb the truth and distort it for his own bias, not to defend the truth for the betterment of the public. Ethical journalism – heck, good journalism – is in service of the people. Journalists’ job is distributing the truth for the interpretation and education of mankind. That means we as journalists must make the effort – yes, the sweaty effort – of sustaining the truth through any means necessary.

Instead, O’Keefe decided to slap together a video and call it “investigative.” Sounds more like “desperation” to me.

Bad Editing is Laughable

Enough said.

Check this out for more on bad editing in broadcasting:

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