Monday, January 02, 2006

Could Dangerous Tabloid Reporters Be Prowling Your Neighborhood?

Our own Ed “Jimmy Olsen” Gallek was at it again recently. Busting his favorite ratings-boosting target, sex-offenders, he made sure to show his disgust. When did television reporting move to the point where the reporter’s opinions are a centerpiece of the story? I have seen Ed Gallek interviewing a closed door so many times that I’m beginning to think it’s a running gag like on a Monty Python skit. Apparently reporting from the recently arrested offender’s listed address, our hero bravely asked the offender’s mother insulting and condescending questions through a closed door. How do we know that the alleged offender’s mother was actually behind that door? Isn’t it possible that Action News just has a stage somewhere with a closed door prop? They could easily hire an intern to yell things from behind the door in a high-pitched voice and make it seem like they were “live on the scene.”

Additionally, the actual sources for the report were given two-second sound bytes for the piece. The rest of the time was devoted to Gallek’s closed-door antics and some cheesy graphics of other areas in which, according to Gallek, “other local pervs have been found.” Does a reporter discussing such a topic really need to resort to calling these people “pervs?” Is Gallek concerned that viewers might mistakenly come away with the impression that he likes having registered sex offenders living near schools?

The reality is still that while no one wants sex offenders in their neighborhood, there really aren’t many places for formerly incarcerated individuals to go... let alone convicted sex offenders. Many regrettably end up as a burden on homeless shelters, who must juggle the concerns of caring for those in need with the threat of getting kicked out of a neighborhood. Sexually-based offenders once released, face job and housing discrimination over and above that of other ex-offenders.

Additionally, many municipalities continue to restrict where such individuals can live. One offender in another state wasn’t even allowed out of prison because he listed his mother’s address as his outgoing address. While he had been incarcerated, the boundaries had shifted, and his mother’s home had become off-limits. I interviewed Sgt. David Synkowski of the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office for an article in Issue 73, and he told me that Cuyahoga County has a fairly sophisticated system that tracks which addresses are off-limits for sexually-based offenders. He also mentioned that they do their best to inform offenders about these limits to pre-empt problems like that faced by the individual in another state.

Yet that information was also missing from Gallek’s sensationalized report. The important aspects of the story are as follows: The man was arrested for living at an address directly across the street from a school, but left his mother’s address with the County. Upon a follow-up, the County discovered this and arrested him for this violation. In other words, the individual was arrested, presumably without incident. Not much of a story.

But Gallek’s sensibilities said otherwise. There are other “pervs” out there... possibly “even in your neighborhood.” Indeed, according to Gallek, the individual could be charged with another felony... but people like him often end up right back on the street. He then looks earnestly into the camera and asks, “Is there any wonder there’s a problem?” I think we at The Homeless Grapevine should start asking terrifying questions based on hypothetical scenarios in our conclusions too. Here goes...

Scientists say a meteor the size of Australia isn’t approaching the Earth at 800,000 miles an hour, but scientists have been wrong before. Can we really trust that we’re not about to be obliterated in the greatest cataclysm since the end of the dinosaurs? You decide. This is Kevin Cleary, reporting “live” from the parking lot of NASA Glenn.

2 Comments:

Blogger Clevehomeless said...

I love the image of a studio full of doors that could be the props for their stories. This might merit an investigation by another station or the Grapevine to see if there are a bunch of front doors in the basement of Reserve Sqaure for Jimmy Olsen to use.
Brian

9:29 AM  
Anonymous roldo bartimole said...

Enjoying your pithy media comments

12:36 PM  

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