Reporters gone wild

Monday’s paper contained a couple of first-person pieces from reporters who were a bit closer to the action than they normally are. In the first, Gazette reporter Jason Magder recounts walking by a relative’s place whose burglar alarm had just gone off. Nothing happened, but he got scared when he thought there might be nefarious burglars nearby. He later learns that police recommend always calling them first, even if it’s more than likely a false alarm and will result in a fine, because (and this is pretty good logic here) a fine is worth less than your life.

The other, a few pages down, comes from Canwest’s Scott Deveau, who is a reporter in Afghanistan and came face-to-face with a roadside bomb. Again, no serious repercussions, but a pretty huge scare.

So what should we learn from this encounter? Simple: Jason Magder and Scott Deveau are pussies.

But perhaps we can look into this a bit deeper. What purpose do these first-person articles serve? There have been other home break-ins and other roadside bombings that have been worse but gotten less coverage. Is a reporter’s first-person account better than a second-hand version given by a witness? Is this a this-happens-every-day story? Or is it just a way for reporters to placate their enormous egos, a preview into their future memoirs, and an indication that things are more significant when they happen to people we know?

Discuss. Please include unnecessarily personal references in your comments.

3 thoughts on “Reporters gone wild

  1. Guillaume Theoret

    What purpose do these first-person articles serve?

    They make the reader feel a personal connection to the person writing and to the paper; they create a bond.

    There have been other home break-ins and other roadside bombings that have been worse but gotten less coverage. Is a reporter’s first-person account better than a second-hand version given by a witness?

    Yes. Instead of a subjective account of a subjective experience, it’s slightly more accurate. (Or perhaps more accurately embellished?)

    Is this a this-happens-every-day story?

    Yes and that’s kind of the point.

    Or is it just a way for reporters to placate their enormous egos, a preview into their future memoirs, and an indication that things are more significant when they happen to people we know?

    That too, but to address the last part, they do this so that people will add the reporter and by association the gazette to the list of “people they know” and identify with.

    Or maybe I’m just too cynical.

    Reply
  2. Vincent Stephen-Ong

    News sources have historically attempted to remove the subjective experience from the delivery of facts, which is believed to provide a balanced look at a newsworthy story. Of course, the nature of reality is such that everything goes through the looking glass of a perceiver’s personal experience tunnel, and nothing is truly objective, and thus this goal is ultimately unachievable. As a result, opinion pieces and commentators and editorials started to flourish. With the internet, half the interest is in the story and half the interest is in someone’s personal take on it. This can range from the one-liner fark-style headline, or the acerbic wit of a fagstein blog entry, both of which are infinitely more entertaining than regular old “facts” with no commentary and/or personal take.

    Reply
  3. Edna

    Two things readers love to say: “Shit, I’m so glad that isn’t me!” and “Shit, that’s *exactly* like me!”

    Reply

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