viernes, abril 20, 2007

Columbine y los errores del golpe

Otra de las clásicas discusiones sobre la profesión del periodismo es la responsabilidad frente a la inmediatez. Una prueba que parece estar destinada más a la inteligencia emocional que a la razón. Es evidente que las audiencias no llevan en su mano un contador de "novedades" en su cabeza para clasificar los medios, pero sí uno que mide la seriedad y la cordura para administrar las noticias. Por lo mismo CNN muestra hoy los niveles más bajos de credibilidad en su historia. Los estadounidenses ya no quieren sólo la instantánea de Irak, quieren que les digan algo más de lo que no pueden ver. El golpe noticioso ha ido perdiendo fuerza mientras los diarios se van convirtiendo en revistas. El golpe noticioso es hoy una mejor selección de temas, pero lamentablemente la responsabilidad a la hora de tomar decisiones relevantes sigue siendo apropiado para un estudio. A propósito de la cobertura de la matanza de Virginia, este texto analiza la cobertura de la TV en noviembre de 1999, cuando dos jóvenes hicieron de Columbine un nombre permanente. El estudio, publicado en el libro Thinking Clearly, muestra virtudes y defectos, estos últimos casi exclusivamente hijos del golpe noticioso.

Por Alicia Shepard

At 11:19 a.m. on April 20, 1999, two high school seniors began a shooting spree inside Columbine High School that killed 12 students and a teacher and seriously wounded 23 teenagers. Forty-nine minutes later, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris turned their 9-mm semi-automatic weapons on themselves. That much is known now. But at the time, few details were known. No deaths or injuries were confirmed by law enforcement officers until 4 o'clock that afternoon.

For nearly four and a half hours, local television stations struggled to find any information for the 1.5 million in the Denver metro area desperate for details. This case examines the problems television stations encounter covering a major story as it unfolds in real time.

The Columbine tragedy wasn't your typical news story where the press shows up after an event and reports what happened. Covering Columbine for TV would test the physical, emotional and psychological resources each station possessed. But no aspect of journalistic training would be more critically tested than the ability to make snap decisions about what to air under the enormous pressure of that first day.

No television reporter, producer or cameraman had time to ponder ramifications of airing a particular scene or an interview with a distraught child or a live shot of police moving toward hostages. None had time to check details or names spilling from students. Instead, each felt enormous pressure to get something on the air as fast as possible.

"There was so much information in the beginning and so much coming from different ways and different people that you didn't know what was right," says KUSA reporter Ginger Delgado. "So you were left to describe what you saw. Believe me there was a lot to talk about, but you had to be very careful about what you said and how you attributed it."
The toughest decisions in covering the Columbine tragedy involved what to air and when to air it.

"The most difficult decision that day was how much live to put on the air because the story was unfolding," says Diane Mulligan, KMGH news director since March 1998. "And because we didn't know all the facts or even whether the shooters were in the school, the most important thing was being in the control room deciding what shots to put on the air because the carnage was fairly massive. "

This case study raises several complex issues. For the purpose of teaching this case in one 90-minute class period, we are focusing on two:


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