Gotcha journalism.Reporters covering NCSL's 1993 Annual Meeting in San Diego San Diego (săn dēā`gō), city (1990 pop. 1,110,549), seat of San Diego co., S Calif., on San Diego Bay; inc. 1850. San Diego includes the unincorporated communities of La Jolla and Spring Valley. Coronado is across the bay. proved more interested in "getting" the attendees than covering the proceedings. This writer says the public is tired of so-called "gotcha journalism Gotcha journalism is a term often used to refer to techniques primarily used in certain versions of broadcast journalism to represent a specific person or group of people in a specifically desired manner through manipulation of images and quotes, or through editing of interviews. ," which is unethical and damaging to representative government.
When Dee Long, then majority leader of the Minnesota House of Representatives The Minnesota House of Representatives is the lower house in the Minnesota State Legislature. There are 134 members elected to two-year terms, twice the number of members in the Minnesota Senate. , attended the 1991 summer meeting of the National Conference of State Legislatures
The abbreviation NCSL redirects here. For the British educational institution see National College for School Leadership.
The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL NCSL National Conference of State Legislatures
NCSL National College for School Leadership
NCSL National Conference of Standards Laboratories
NCSL National Council of State Legislators
NCSL National Computer Systems Laboratory (NIST) ), one reporter followed her so closely he figured out how much she paid for meals by checking her plate against the menu.
When House Speaker Long attended NCSL's 1993 meeting, held last summer in San Diego, another reporter from her hometown lied about where he was from in order to get press credentials; he didn't want her to know he was there. The reporter, from television station KTSP KTSP Key-event-driven Time-sliced Scenario Pattern of St. Paul St. Paul
as a missionary he fearlessly confronts the “perils of waters, of robbers, in the city, in the wilderness.” [N.T.: II Cor. 11:26]
See : Bravery , Minn., covertly videotaped her movements until she discovered him. After that, he kept a camera in her face the rest of the week.
When she returned home, KTSP ran a Story as part of a series on government waste that showed Long enjoying a game of golf at the conference. The next day the legislator LEGISLATOR. One who makes laws.
2. In order to make good laws, it is necessary to understand those which are in force; the legislator ought therefore, to be thoroughly imbued with a knowledge of the laws of his country, their advantages and defects; to , citing "personal reasons," resigned her speakership. While other factors influenced her decision, Long says her treatment by the news media was nothing less than "the final straw." Long's experience with her home-state news media is hardly the exception.
In San Diego to cover the NCSL conference for Scripps-Howard news service, I found a story I had not expected: the lamentable la·men·ta·ble
Inspiring or deserving of lament or regret; deplorable or pitiable. See Synonyms at pathetic.
lamen·ta·bly adv. spread of what President Clinton and others have called the "gotcha (jargon, programming) gotcha - A misfeature of a system, especially a programming language or environment, that tends to breed bugs or mistakes because it both enticingly easy to invoke and completely unexpected and/or unreasonable in its outcome. " mentality of those journalists who cover politics. As I found in San Diego, this approach produced some mindless, not to mention unethical, journalism, especially at the local and state level.
Far removed from the traditions of bona fide [Latin, In good faith.] Honest; genuine; actual; authentic; acting without the intention of defrauding.
A bona fide purchaser is one who purchases property for a valuable consideration that is inducement for entering into a contract and without suspicion of being investigative reporting, so-called gotcha journalism may be defined as the effort to catch public officials in seemingly compromising positions. Journalists who practice it focus on catching faux pas This page has been divided into the following:
Past tense and past participle of underpay.
not paid as much as the job deserves
underpaid adj → and overworked, they can hardly be blamed for wondering why they chose to enter public service, or for saying in effect, "Take this job and shove it."
KTSP, an ABC ABC
in full American Broadcasting Co.
Major U.S. television network. It began when the expanding national radio network NBC split into the separate Red and Blue networks in 1928. affiliate, sent John Blake John Blake may refer to:
The St. Paul Pioneer Press is a newspaper based in St. Paul, Minnesota, primarily serving the Twin Cities metropolitan area. photographer to register for press credentials. He later reregistered as a reporter from a sister station in New Mexico New Mexico, state in the SW United States. At its northwestern corner are the so-called Four Corners, where Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah meet at right angles; New Mexico is also bordered by Oklahoma (NE), Texas (E, S), and Mexico (S). . As though these deceptions were not enough, Blake actually lied to a South Dakota South Dakota (dəkō`tə), state in the N central United States. It is bordered by North Dakota (N), Minnesota and Iowa (E), Nebraska (S), and Wyoming and Montana (W). lawmaker who asked him where he was from. Blake was disciplined for his methods by the television station, but that didn't stop KTSP from running his video.
The story showed Dee Long playing golf on Sunday, July 25, the day of the conference with by far the lightest meeting schedule. It said that Long participated in work sessions only two of the four other days of the conference. The report also focused on a second Minnesota lawmaker who brought his family with him at his own expense, although his wife and children stayed in his hotel room. Additionally, the segment captured on video a third lawmaker who wandered off from the convention to catch an afternoon showing at a pornography theater.
The point of the story was obvious: Lawmakers played when they should have worked - and did so at taxpayer expense. But the report had numerous flaws. Although Long paid her expenses on the days she did not attend working sessions, it was implied she would not have done so had the KTSP reporter not followed her around. In a subsequent interview, Long maintained the opposite. The segment also failed to report that Long actually saved the state of Minnesota some money. She flew to San Diego the Saturday before the conference in order to take advantage of the price break airlines give those who stay over Saturday night Saturday Night may refer to: Music
One of the pioneers of video art, Gary Hill has exhibited his video and video installations worldwide (Artfacts 2007). , managing editor of news for KTSP, said they were "beside the point."
Hill defended his television station's treatment of Long by arguing that she practically dared reporters to follow her around at the conference. He noted that in remarks made before her departure, she had emphasized how hard she worked at the NCSL meeting. Hill drew a comparison with Gary Hart, who as a presidential aspirant in 1987 suggested that reporters follow him around to see that he was not a womanizer wom·an·ize
v. woman·ized, woman·iz·ing, woman·iz·es
To pursue women lecherously.
To give female characteristics to; feminize. .
In fact, Speaker Long was foolish to have raised the issue of how substantive the meetings were. As a political veteran she should have known that by daring news reporters to follow her around she was inviting trouble. But that doesn't excuse the way KTSP treated her.
The KTSP story also failed to make clear whether the sessions missed were ones lawmakers should have attended. Did the lawmakers attend sessions about issues in which they specialize, skipping - with justification - the others? Hill said he didn't know the answer to this relevant question, although he said he thought one of the lawmakers had missed a session on a subject within his expertise.
The fact is, at any given time several sessions were under way, so unless lawmakers were capable of being in two places at one time, they were missing something. Even if all of the almost 2,000 lawmakers had wanted to attend a particular session during every time slot Continuously repeating interval of time or a time period in which two devices are able to interconnect. , there would not have been room for them.
To judge by Hill's remarks, the attitude at KTSP is that state and local lawmakers are fair game for gotcha journalism. Unfortunately, KTSP is by no means the only news organization with this attitude.
Bo Johnson is speaker of the Florida House of Representatives The Florida House of Representatives, one of the two Chambers of the Florida Legislature, is composed of 120 members, each representing a district.
Representatives are elected to two-year terms during even-numbered years. . Before he and his colleagues left for the NCSL meetings, the Tallahassee Democrat wrote - and the Associated Press Associated Press: see news agency.
Associated Press (AP)
Cooperative news agency, the oldest and largest in the U.S. and long the largest in the world. rewrote and distributed to newspapers statewide - a story about which lawmakers were going to the conference and what it was costing taxpayers (about $1,500 a head). The story suggested that lawmakers were off on a junket, and the headline atop the AP story in The Tampa Tribune said exactly that: "California Junket Set."
Of course, the term "junket" implies that lawmakers are having a good time away from home at taxpayer expense - but plan to do no real work. The Associated Press story ignored the possibility that lawmakers - and therefore those they represent - might actually benefit from their attendance at the NCSL meetings. According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. Johnson, some lawmakers "didn't even come because they weren't willing to take the political risk of being written up attending a conference like this."
As for those who did come, he adds, "You find they worry that, despite how many meetings they attend . . . they might be characterized as sitting out by the pool at an inopportune in·op·por·tune
Inappropriate or ill-timed; not opportune.
in·oppor·tune moment" or, as in Long's case, playing golf.
Random conversations with lawmakers show they are becoming easy prey for "scandal" hungry editors and producers. Susan Seladones, NCSL's public affairs Those public information, command information, and community relations activities directed toward both the external and internal publics with interest in the Department of Defense. Also called PA. See also command information; community relations; public information. director, noted two examples of news organizations that sent crews to find stories not about the content of the conference, but exclusively about lawmakers doing nothing at taxpayer expense:
* KING-TV of Seattle sent a crew just to photograph people sitting around the hotel pool. The crew picked up press credentials, but weren't seen at any business meetings.
* The Las Vegas Las Vegas (läs vā`gəs), city (1990 pop. 258,295), seat of Clark co., S Nev.; inc. 1911. It is the largest city in Nevada and the center of one of the fastest-growing urban areas in the United States. Review Journal, Nevada's largest newspaper, sent a reporter, who doesn't cover state government, to find out what the legislators were doing outside the business sessions. This reporter - like John Blake of St. Paul's
Seladones adds that there was "a Utah television crew that located itself at the opening reception near where the boats leave from the marina, trying to spot Utah legislators getting on those boats." The crew never registered to cover the conference.
Dee Long and many other state lawmakers were hassled by their local news organizations for attending the NCSL Annual Meetings in 1991 and 1993, but not in 1992. Why the different coverage? In 1991 the meeting was in Orlando. In 1992, it was in Cincinnati. And, of course, in 1993 it was in San Diego. News executives saw Orlando and San Diego, but not Cincinnati, as prime vacation spots, perfect backdrops for stories about "junkets." It did not matter to these executives that the business programs and social activities were basically the same each year. The journalistic mindset mind·set or mind-set
1. A fixed mental attitude or disposition that predetermines a person's responses to and interpretations of situations.
2. An inclination or a habit. is such that the notion of "junket" and Cincinnati - or for that matter Milwaukee, where the NCSL meets in 1995 - are incompatible.
Many journalists are interested in covering an event like the NCSL conference only if they can pursue the junket story line - a point not lost on lawmakers, who, as Johnson puts it, are concerned about "why the media is so determined that this is the only thing they want to go after in the political process."
Gotcha journalism ignores the substantial work that occurs at the NCSL meeting. As Ron Brownstein, national political correspondent for the Los Angeles Times Los Angeles Times
Morning daily newspaper. Established in 1881, it was purchased and incorporated in 1884 by Harrison Gray Otis (1837–1917) under The Times-Mirror Co. (the hyphen was later dropped from the name). , said of the NCSL schedule, "this is wonk heaven." In San Diego, virtually every domestic policy issue was the subject of at least one seminar. On Tuesday alone there were 86 different sessions scheduled. Meetings on Wednesday morning discussed experiments with welfare reform, how states have schools deliver social services social services
welfare services provided by local authorities or a state agency for people with particular social needs
social services npl → servicios mpl sociales , how localities are finding ways to finance cultural activities, taxation of polluters and implementation of health care reforms at the state level.
In addition, there were sessions on Indian tribes opening gambling casinos, on how local universities can supplement lawmakers' information gathering and how to lure business investment from overseas markets.
Such sessions offer lawmakers opportunities to swap ideas about what works and what doesn't in addressing the multitude of problems that jurisdictions face from coast to coast. In fact, in many cases the information conveyed in these instructive sessions could easily produce more than enough state revenue to cover the cost of the trip several times over.
After returning home to Arizona, state Representative George Cunningham George Cunningham (born 10 June 1931) is a British politician.
Cunningham was educated at Dunfermline High School, Blackpool Grammar School and Manchester University. He worked for the Labour Party as Commonwealth officer. was confronted by a constituent who said he had read about his "junket" in San Diego. Cunningham wrote an oped piece in the Tucson Citizen The Tucson Citizen is a daily newspaper in Tucson, Arizona. It was founded by Richard C. McCormick with John Wasson as publisher and editor on October 15, 1870 as the Arizona Citizen. The current publisher and editor is Michael Chihak. in which he explained that at the meeting he had learned Arizona was at a competitive disadvantage in attracting biotechnology companies Top 100 Biotechnology Companies
The following is a list of the top 100 biotechnology companies ranked by revenue. The first nine companies qualify for the list of the top 50 pharmaceutical companies. because other states offered tax credits to lure such firms. He also said that, as his state searched for ways to change its funding formula for public schools, he learned of approaches taken by Massachusetts, Texas and Indiana to redo To reverse an undo operation. See undo. theirs. "The benefits to the taxpayers from the NCSL Annual Meeting may be hard to quantify, but they are nonetheless real," he said. It allows lawmakers to innovate and avoid "reinventing the wheel Reinventing the wheel is a phrase that means a generally accepted technique or solution is ignored in favor of a locally invented solution. To "reinvent the wheel" is to duplicate a basic method that has long since been accepted and even taken for granted. ."
Amid all the topics covered, it is difficult to believe that there was nothing newsworthy news·wor·thy
adj. news·wor·thi·er, news·wor·thi·est
Of sufficient interest or importance to the public to warrant reporting in the media.
news to cover at any of the NCSL meetings. The traditional journalistic response to criticism of the focus on gotcha journalism is that the press is just providing information to the public, allowing them to make up their own minds. This is nonsense. By covering such conferences as the one held by NCSL for no other reason than to catch lawmakers "misbehaving," certain news organizations ignore actual news, and do a disservice dis·ser·vice
A harmful action; an injury.
a harmful action
Noun 1. to their readers and viewers.
Ginger Rutland, formerly a reporter for television stations in San Francisco San Francisco (săn frănsĭs`kō), city (1990 pop. 723,959), coextensive with San Francisco co., W Calif., on the tip of a peninsula between the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay, which are connected by the strait known as the Golden and Sacramento, is now an editorial writer for The Sacramento Bee. Rutland attended the NCSL sessions to update herself on the issues being addressed in various states. "I am shocked by the amount of work done by so many of them," she says. "I have no idea how many of them goof off v. i. 1. To shirk one's duties; to avoid work by relaxing or performing idle activities. and play golf. But every session that I have been to has been packed with people working hard, taking notes and paying attention Noun 1. paying attention - paying particular notice (as to children or helpless people); "his attentiveness to her wishes"; "he spends without heed to the consequences"
attentiveness, heed, regard ... Frankly, I expected a little more playing than I am seeing." But many who read and viewed the "news" from the NCSL meetings in San Diego got exactly the opposite impression: all play, no work.
Obviously, no good journalist, when pondering how to cover the NCSL, should ignore the possibility of a "junket" story angle. But, by the same token, they shouldn't dismiss the idea that work might actually be taking place. Reports about the issues shouldn't be neglected so that journalists can stand around the swimming pool and land flashy personality stories.
The devotion of some news organizations to gotcha journalism might lead to the question: Does the press believe lawmakers should not be able to use state funds to attend professional development conferences? Perhaps this is a valid question, but gotcha journalism makes no attempt to offer a serious answer.
If the press believes that such sessions should not be underwritten by tax dollars, does it want lawmakers to use campaign funds to finance such trips? If so, would the press not begin writing stories about how lobbyists are paying for the trips? Or is the press saying that lawmakers should go to such meetings only if they pay their own way?
If so, consider these facts. While Minnesota pays its state lawmakers an annual wage of $27,000 - the speaker, a full-time job, makes $39,000 annually - that is a good deal more than state lawmakers receive in most states. An NCSL survey showed that only 14 percent of the more than 7,500 state lawmakers nationally can afford to make public service their full-time job. For each of the state lawmakers in California, who earn $52,500, there are almost four lawmakers in New Hampshire New Hampshire, one of the New England states of the NE United States. It is bordered by Massachusetts (S), Vermont, with the Connecticut R. forming the boundary (W), the Canadian province of Quebec (NW), and Maine and a short strip of the Atlantic Ocean (E). who make only $200. In fact, the average annual pay for lawmakers in the 50 states is about $18,500 - roughly half the median family income nationally.
With most state lawmakers earning less than the national median income for their legislative duties, the idea that they should pay their own way could be interpreted as a suggestion that Americans ought to elect only well-to-do people. Even now some lawmakers lose money on the trip. New Mexico's House Majority Leader Michael Olguin, who earns $75 a day for his state's 60-day legislative session, a total of $4,500 a year, was paid $75 a day for seven days plus airfare and his registration fee to attend the NCSL. But because his room cost $135 a day, he lost money on the trip.
What Dee Long says of KTSP is true of too many in the press. "Their view evidently is that legislators should not participate in conferences to better educate themselves and, in my opinion, become better legislators. They figure it's a waste of tax dollars and we shouldn't go or we should pay our own way."
Long is far from the stereotype of the establishment politician traditionally portrayed as a tool of monied interests. She's female and quite liberal. Her district has a large gay population, although she is married with two children. She had not been a press-basher and for years was a favorite of Minnesota reporters, but she now shows a real bitterness toward the news media.
She is not alone, a point noticed by The Sacramento Bee's Rutland, who said she was shocked by lawmakers' attitudes toward the media.
"What has startled star·tle
v. star·tled, star·tling, star·tles
1. To cause to make a quick involuntary movement or start.
2. To alarm, frighten, or surprise suddenly. See Synonyms at frighten. me and what I did not expect is the level of paranoia of many legislators about being here. They fear they are going to be photographed by a television reporter or be followed by a newspaper reporter and everything they do here is going to be documented in a way that is negative for the folks back home. They are scared to death ... They are angry, they are disgusted and several of them were afraid to let me use their names. They are just afraid in a way that is unhealthy."
She added: "I am very familiar with |gotcha' journalism, especially from a television angle and how tempting the pictures are. You can get a picture of an overweight legislator lying by the pool and drinking. It's a fat picture for television crews ... In my view it is unfair, a distortion of the process and damaging to representative government in a way that we as journalists should be concerned about. This constant bashing, this constant negative rundown is because our editors want it, because we are competing for audiences, because we want conflict and we want corruption and we want all of those things we assume go on and are damaging to representative government."
New Mexico's Olguin, who is also an insurance agent, brought his family with him to San Diego, as did many others in attendance. Here is his wife Robbie, who met her husband when both worked on Capitol Hill in Washington two decades ago: "Michael is busy so much - between the Legislature and his regular job - that this is the time we get to spend with him. This is our vacation. Sometimes I worry that my being here will get my husband in trouble. I compared notes with other legislative wives and found they feel the same way."
Moreover, she says, "I worry about the impact on my kids. When Michael was first in the Legislature, it wasn't as bad as it is now with the media playing up the bad guy image. You want them to think [government service] is an honorable thing to do, you try to make the state a better place to live. Then you see all the negative stuff, and you don't want them to think their dad is abusing his power. It has been very hard to make the kids understand."
Florida Speaker Johnson, who also brought his children to the conference, shares Robbie Olguin's concern: "My son asked why [journalists] were so critical of coming out here. I told him I was doing what I thought was part of my job and the press was going to offer its view that at times is critical and at times is wrong. It has caused him to think he never wants to be in public office ... There is an awful lot of talk with other teenagers. When they talk about what their fathers do, my son would much rather tell them his dad is in real estate than his father is speaker of the House, and he shouldn't have to apologize for what I do for a living."
Given that local officials are often underpaid and receive few perks, especially in comparison to officials at the national level, those who experience "gotcha" journalism are going to wonder why they ever wanted to serve, and some, like Dee Long, are going to resign. Meanwhile, talented citizens who might want to run for office are going to examine Long's experience and decide to stay on the sidelines On the sidelines
An investor who decides not to invest due to market uncertainty.
on the sidelines
Of or relating to investors who, having assessed the market, have decided to avoid committing their funds. .
Says Florida Speaker Johnson, "I think [this kind of journalism] takes away from the satisfaction of being a legislator. Each person has to decide why he is willing to put in the hours and make the sacrifices. For those who get bruised up by these stories, they reach a point where it is not worth the sacrifice."
For a society that wants its best and brightest in office, the press is creating huge disincentives for individuals to serve. The journalistic view that "the only way to look at a politician is down," and the coverage this perspective inspires, is at the heart of gotcha journalism.
Despite offers by KTSP'S Gary Hill and others in the press to justify gotcha journalism, the American public objects to it. Polls indicate readers and viewers see the news media as too preoccupied with scandal, too heavy on glitz glitz Informal
Ostentatious showiness; flashiness: "a garish barrage of show-biz glitz" Peter G. Davis.
tr.v. and not strong enough on substance.
"News" reports on the NCSL meetings indicate that for some newsrooms, hype has become a higher editorial priority than substance; that a misleading snapshot is more valuable than the larger, nuanced picture. If editors and producers encourage this negative take on politicians in order to win readers and viewers, then perhaps they should listen more closely to their audiences. There is solid evidence that this strategy might be having the opposite effect.