Drugs Letter of the Day
posted by August 22 at 17:08 PMon
I live in a pretty conservative city, and I enjoy reading Slog every day. I have found your posts on the drug war and the way it is reported to be very enlightening. Recently, I talked to my boyfriend about it; he’s a news producer for one of the local tv stations here. I asked if he would be “allowed” to produce a story which questioned the effictiveness of drug raids. (All of his stories have to be approved by the news director.) Without pause, he said no. Apparently, one of the major considerations in what is considered newsworthy is whether something could be considered “offensive,” and to suggest that drugs are not evil and that the DEA is not doing God’s Work would definitely be offensive. (Murder and child rape, however, are not offensive; they’re usually the lead stories.)
Not to lose focus of what this e-mail is about, but he’s also rarely allowed to run stories about gay rights issues. My boyfriend said that anytime he has included such a story in his newscast, the station receives “record numbers” of angry phone calls.
“Isn’t that a good thing?” I asked. “Doesn’t that mean you’re provoking discussion?”
My boyfriend agrees. His news director does not.
So, unfortunately, real journalism ain’t easy, especially in a conservative city. After a lot of prodding from me every time I read one of your “stupid fucking credulous hack” posts, my boyfriend finally agreed to pitch a story about the (lack of) effectiveness of the drug war to run during sweeps; apparently sweeps months are the only time that it may be okay to be controversial. Who knows? Maybe it’ll get on the air.
Oh, and by the way: more than half of the people working in the newsroom regularly smoke pot. At the station, even.
Thanks for the thought-provoking blogging, Dan. Have a great weekend.