Richard Bradley on TomPaine.com argues that CNN is taking this righteous indignation and emotion thing too far….(via Romenesko)
Forgive me for not salivating, but is crying on television and castigating U.S. senators really what a television news anchor “ought to be”? I don’t want my newscasters to be missionaries—there are too many missionaries in this country already. I want them to be reporters. And given how influential they are, I want them to at least try to be objective.
I don’t mean to beat up on Cooper, who, I’m sure, was genuinely moved by what he saw in New Orleans—who wouldn’t be?—and seemed a little embarrassed by all the attention. But just because we empathize doesn’t mean it’s appropriate for reporters to get so emotional. It is, after all, a lapse in objectivity. It turns the hurricane story into serial drama, infotainment, rather than a news event to cover. We may like the tears of rage this time, and be appalled or irritated or skeptical the next. Emotions are like that. Sometimes you trust them, sometimes you don’t.
In the long run, Cooper’s tears discredit both himself and CNN because they subvert the ideal of objectivity. Reportorial neutrality may be an impossible goal, but it’s still the best way to be fair, accurate and credible over the long term. Instead, Cooper’s emoting buttresses the idea that a television anchor needs to be a “personality,” whose credibility stems from our trust in his persona rather than the depth of the reporting he undertakes. It’s all about Anderson.