Thursday, October 14, 2010

Friday Media Rant: "Officer-Involved" Shooting

Earlier this week, there was an “officer-involved” shooting on the south side of Madison. I know this because the three local TV news operations all told me about it. Of course, they didn’t bother to hyphenate the term; they just copied it right off the top of the police incident report. One of the stations further reported that the young man who was shot by the deputy was “transported” to a “local hospital.”

Transported? Did they beam him there, like in Star Trek? There are four “local hospitals” – UW, Veterans, Meriter, and St. Mary. Why not just say which one? At least they didn’t say “rushed” to a local hospital. (It would be news if the rescue crew lollygagged, stopped for coffee and a sandwich, and took their sweet time in getting the gunshot victim to the ER.)

Back to the “officer-involved shooting.” First of all, nobody talks like that. Not even cops. But every one of the TV stations reported it that way, for reasons which have long escaped me. Apparently it’s the “copy and paste” style of writing that’s so prevalent today. Just copy the police report and paste it into your newsroom word processor. That is, after all, what highly skilled reporters and journalists do these days, isn’t it?

Every so often, they’ll tell us about somebody who was “extricated” from a vehicle and rushed to a local hospital. God forbid they should alter the language on the police report and say the wreck was so bad the person had to be cut out of the car, the way 99.9% of us would.

Later on in the newscast, the traffic person told us there were “no reports of any accidents.” Who talks like that? Only the local traffic reporters. No reports of ANY accidents. Why do they insist on sticking the word “any” into the sentence? Nobody talks like that, except all our local traffic reporters. I’m always thankful, sitting on my wide butt in my huge easy chair in the media room of El Rancho Morrissey, that the local TV stations are thoughtful enough to give us quick traffic reports. I always trusted that if there was a wreck so bad that it tied up traffic in knots for miles, they’d make a point of telling us on the news, anyway.

Next time, we’ll talk about the “ay-thee” disease to which so many local talking heads have fallen victim.

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