Blog Discussion #1

Wisconsin TV news anchor Jennifer Livingston made the news this week with her on-air report about weight.  Please take a look at the video and read the Poynter piece about her presentation and weigh in with your thoughts on the comments board.

A few questions:

*  Is this news?  Why?  Why not?

*  Is this good storytelling?  Why?  Why not?  Is this an indication of an evolution of storytelling?

*  If you’re the news director, do you give Livingston four minutes for this piece?




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5 Responses to Blog Discussion #1

  1. I take ‘news’ to be something people talk about, care about, something that is going on in our world today that needs to be addressed. Therefore, I absolutely find this piece to be news. Jennifer Livingston, a figure in the public eye, is standing up for adolescents that are bullied everyday, some for the same exact reason that she was.

    She is 100% right when stating, “the internet is a weapon.” Although this may not be your usual hard-hitting story, and some may consider this only to be important because it happened to a public figure, it is still news.

    The point of Livingston’s 4 minute rant was to show this does happen, everyday, even to her. And when I say rant, I mean it. I appreciated everything Livingston had to say, but for someone on TV, she has to understand you can only hold an audience’s attention for so long. My only criticism on this piece would be the length of her presentation, two minutes or less would have been enough.

    I think it would have been better for Livingston to have solely focused on the main idea that bullying needs to stop for young children. Livingston talked about herself and her family for maybe two solid minutes, and that’s where she started to lose me.

    Other than that, I did find this to be a worthy news story. It’s unfortunate for Jennifer Livingston to have received that email, but it’s nice to know people are still standing up against bullying throughout the nation.

  2. Jhash595 says:

    I believe that this is news because it is more of an editorial piece. Newspapers have editorial sections, which are merely the thoughts and opinions of a journalist on a certain topic. Besides that, bullying has been a hot topic in the news and even more since people are being targeted online. The case of Phoebe Prince’s suicide in 2010 is a perfect example of how serious the issue actually is.

    Journalist are supposed to report on what is happening and that is exactly what Livingston did, but on a personal level. The use of personal events are often used in storytelling because it connects with the audience and makes the topic real. By connecting with the audience it grabs their attention. I’m not sure if it’s an indication of a new form of storytelling because this form has already been present.

    The first half of the video would make a good transition into coverage of bullying of any sort. However, the second half was focused more on her instead of the bigger picture. If I was the editor, I would have had the first two minutes of the video and cut it off there. Though this may have hurt Livingston, the news is not a place to rant about the hardships you encounter in life, unless it is a transition to a broader topic.

  3. lindsaypoole says:

    Personally I feel for Livingston. No one wants to be singled out and told how unattractive and overweight they are. However she is a news anchor, she chose to put herself in the public eye. She had to have known (or must know now after 10 years in the business) that being critiqued it part of the job. In her industry of broadcast the way you look can be enough to get or not get you hired. When you knowingly put yourself in this kind of public position you should expect some kind of criticism.

    Not to mention this kind of thing happen all the time. Producers, anchors, reporters, directors, no one is off limits to the critical eyes of news audiences. I would say that most on-air talent at some point will or has received a critical email for one reason or another, too dumb, too blonde, too tall, too short, too skinny, too fat. If every person that received a critical email took it to the air and tried to make it into some life lesson, there would be no time for anything else on the air. If I was her news director I would not allow her to air her editorial. The email deserves no more attention then Livingston’s eyes. I would personally tell her to activate that “thick skin” she claims she has, delete the email and move on. The only reason why I would possibly consider it, is if I were thinking to the future and how much press it could potentially bring the station.

    I don’t really see this as being news. I can’t imagine anything that an audience member could really learn from hearing about the email. The email evokes emotion. In my opinion to be news it needs to teach an audience something, and this does not. Im sorry Livingston received that email, but the attention it has been getting is just blowing it out of proportion. As if her 4 minute on air editorial wasn’t enough, then she had to be interviewed on GMA, The Today Show, and CBS This Morning. Its a critical email nothing more.

  4. I don’t think that this story is very newsworthy. I agree with Jake that perhaps if in Livingston’s speech she focused on bullying in children after introducing her own story, then it could have held some value. This self centered rant did not inform the audience of much at all. It just briefly brushed on the very broad topics of bullying and obesity.

    I also agree with Lindsay that although this email is hurtful a public figure should expect criticism. Livingston should have dealt with this criticism personally and not publically.

    Obesity is one of the most deadly diseases in the US right now and it is for the most part entirely preventable. Personally the fact that Livingston knows she is obese and is doing nothing about it is very frustrating to me because I strongly value physical health. The email was harsh, but it does not warrant the type of coverage that it is receiving.

  5. egeffre says:

    Though I do think anti-bullying is extremely important, I don’t think this was executed very well, but wish it was because I do consider this issue to be news. News is something that people talk about, and this has definitely been a topic of discussion by many.

    I wish that the story was presented differently. If the TV station had made a package that started off with the email that Livingston received, then quickly moved on to focus on how students and others are bullied around the country, then the story would be more effective. I don’t think Livingston should have had four minutes to discuss the issue in the way that she did, because the audience looses interest in what she is saying. It is too long of a time to not present what she’s saying in a different way.

    Anti-bullying is important because people are bullied every day, and that is why I think it would have been great if the station put together a package versus having Livingston talk to the camera about what happened to her, then try to turn it into something else quickly at the end of her spiel. Many more viewers would be able to relate if the focus was on the entirety of bullying instead of mainly on Livingston.

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