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Thursday, April 06, 2006

NBC Dateline Under Fire: Child Predators to NASCAR

NBC's Dateline has come under fire lately for its approach to the News. First it was the To Catch a Predator series, now its NASCAR.

The Catch a Predator Series was aired during Nielsen ratings week. And, has blurred the line of separation from reporting the news to being the news according to Journalism ethic standards.

This from the Society of Professional Journalism:

"There are several ethics issues involved in this," Tompkins said. "There's concern when news departments become an arm of law enforcement. There should be a separation of journalists and police, and our job is to cover what they do but not enable and become a participant in the enforcement."

And there was more criticism by competing networks and the media:

This from the Los Angeles Times:

"NBC has been working hand-in-glove with the activist group Perverted-Justice.com and, more recently, local law enforcement officials who lurk nearby, Miranda warnings evidently at the ready. Responding to criticism, "Dateline" anchor Stone Phillips defended the show's methods ("Enticement? Yes. Entrapment? I don't think so.") in a February blog post."

The Los Angeles Times was also critical of the CBS Blog Public Eye for taking pot shots at Dateline, but also appeared to support their argument.

The CBS Blog Public Eye reports:

"But isn't identifying someone as a child molester on national television a form of punishment? Public humiliation has been used for that purpose at least since the time prisoners were placed in the stocks and the pillory. One can, of course, argue that potential child molesters should be exposed to the public. Some law enforcement agencies do so. "Dateline," however, is not the law. Even if you think it is appropriate for these men to be exposed, is the decision to do so one that should be made by the media?"

Personally my opinion is that exposure of child molesters is a good thing. We all want our children to be safe, and the reinforced knowledge, that the internet is a preying ground for this ilk of society should not be overlooked by parents.

Now, Dateline is coming under more criticism; not for its exposure for child predators, but by NASCAR.

This from the Roanoke Times:

NASCAR said NBC confirmed it was sending Muslim-looking men to a race, along with a camera crew to film fans' reactions. The NBC crew was "apparently on site in Martinsville, Va., walked around and no one bothered them,"

NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said Wednesday.
"It is outrageous that a news organization of NBC's stature would stoop to the level of going out to create news instead of reporting news," Poston said.

"Any legitimate journalist in America should be embarrassed by this stunt. The obvious intent by NBC was to evoke reaction, and we are confident our fans won't take the bait," he said.

Interestingly, NASCAR is in the final year of the contract with NBC sports. And with the ploy to get ratings with Nielsen with the Catch a Predator Series, should they also be held suspect of trying to leverage NASCAR?

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