Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Misrepresentation -- It’s not just for politicians anymore

Posted by Craig Westover | 3:44 PM |  

Blogger David Downing experiences misrepresentation by WCCO television.
My wife, kids and I were at the Minnesota State Fair today. Around midday, we were walking through the intersection of Cooper and Cosgrove, and we spied a video camera set up in the street. We tried to pass by, walking behind the camera, when we were approached by a TV news reporter.

Reporter Terri Gruca, of WCCO-TV (Minneapolis), said she was doing a story about State Fair attendance being down, and about people not coming to the Fair as often as they had in the past. She asked about our attendance, and we told her we were attending only one day this year, same as last. We told her we liked to come two days, and had done so in the past, but we were able to FIND TIME TO COME only one day.

Labor Day, the final day of the Fair, is also advertised as a "bargain day," with special offers from some Fair vendors. Gruca asked if this was why we picked today to attend. My wife said no, we picked today because it's a holiday, and she didn't have to take off work to come. Our answers didn't seem to fit what Gruca was looking for, but she asked if she could interview us on camera, and we consented.

We repeated what we had said off-camera. Gruca also asked if we thought prices were going up, and we said yes, they were, and rising prices for admission and at the concessions might keep some people away. She asked if we noticed the final day bargains. My wife said no, except for the reduced rates on carnival rides. Gruca asked if we thought higher gas prices were keeping people away. I replied no, because it's little difference for people in the metro area, and for people outstate, the Fair is an event that's been on their calendars all year, and they are coming regardless. (Remember, I grew up on the farm; I was once one of those people.)

We sure didn't fit the template of the story Gruca said she was working on. I wondered, would we not appear in the final story, because we didn't fit what she wanted? Or would she reshape the story she initially thought she had, to reflect what we had told her?

Neither, as it turned out. Gruca used us in her story, but she cut-and-pasted our comments to fit what she was looking for, making it seem that we said things we did not.
Read Downing’s fisk of the interview here and see the ‘CCO video here.