Those who have studied journalism will remember having been taught the five W’s. Well, that and never put a picture on the fold. While the fold thing may not be as important as it once was since most of us get our news from sources other than the traditional printed page, the five W’s are still the foundational structure of a properly presented news story. Who, what, where, when and why still need to be asked and answered by the journalist or else the news consumer is left asking those questions for themselves without the benefit of an answer.
By way of illustration, let’s take a look at a recent news item that caught the attention of and was reported by many local and national news shows. I saw the story on three different news outlets and still don’t know what caused the event. What I do know is that a grandmother and her dog were lost in the desert and were rescued. The grandmother, with her dog in the car was reported to have been driving in the desert and got lost. With no cell coverage available where she found herself, she evidently decided to hoof it to civilization and eventually laid out a “help” signal made of rocks and bones. After being spotted from the air, she sat on a rock and bawled and the officer rescuing her sat with her and hugged her.
The story we were given by various media outlets was one of grit, perseverance and a happy ending with hearts being warmed all around. Well, wait a minute. Did she run out of gas? Did her car break down? What would cause her to leave her car and wonder through the desert? Why wouldn’t she just keep on the road and drive to civilization? Inquiring minds want to know. None of those questions were answered in any of the coverage of this story that I saw.
We’re all glad she was rescued but has the media taken the Biblical principle of “let he who has never made a stupid decision cast the first question,” a little too far in their failure to find out what may have caused this dilemma? My take is that the news coverage available to us is just not of the quality it once was. Who do you think is a good news person? What would you change in news coverage? Where do you get your news? When is it wrong to ask questions? Why is any of this important? Your comments could be breaking news. Scoop the other guys and get yours posted here first while you are liking, sharing and subscribing! TTFN