Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Watchdogs gnaw the bones they are thrown

This is Sunshine Week in Florida and the old media are all gushing about their important role as "watchdogs," yadda, yadda.
Meanwhile, they have lost a major source of important information, surrendering without a fight.
When I was a police reporter during most of the 1960s the media roamed the police station at will. I spent most of my day there, when I wasn't out chasing police calls to robberies and murders.
Now, the press is not even allowed in the police station except under carefully controlled circumstances. They have to wear I.D. badges and can read whatever offense reports are left in a special room just inside the front door of the station.
Reporters never talk to the cops on the beat. I knew every cop in town and talked with them constantly, including detectives working on cases. I rode with them, at times. They let me into crime scenes and in return I didn't mess up the scene and I gave them copies of photos I took. Evidence technicians were scarce in those days.
The first designated public information person was J.T. Lowe, a nice guy who just died recently. He asked what he could do for me and I told him I'd call him if I couldn't get any information on my own, a problem that never arose.
Now, the reporters are spoon-fed by public information officers and get only what they are told or allowed to see.
If they ever bother to ask, they probably are told non-access is about security. It's about control.

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