Last night, Global News started their first-ever liveblog with soldiers from Afghanistan. Global and its viewers generated a discussion lasting about an hour covering various topics. Apparently, one of my questions got interesting answers.
Sometimes reporters do a great job. But, according to Capt. Braden Greaves’ assessment, sometimes they miss what’s at the heart of a story. This is something I’ve heard before, back when I was talking with soldiers during the Canadian Military Journalism Course at CFB Wainwright.
The soldiers I talked to were troubled by reporters who would “know” the story before they even got there. These journalists would more often than not also put emphasis on something flashy, like casualities, for viewers back home.
On the other hand, the soldiers have a closer, first-hand account of the story. They’re our sources. To many of them, the mission is always the story. The good left behind is the soldier’s story just as much as his or her sacrifice is, they said.
For better or for worse, journalists ultimately have to decide what the “real” story is. And yes, that may mean focusing on casualties to keep our audience in the know. But even in J-school we were taught that — within limits — the story is usually what our sources say it is. And if we’re not interested in what the soldier’s story is, why would we have liveblog discussions like this in the first place?
I’m thankful my simple question and the resulting answers were picked up by J-Source. Hopefully some journalists end up benefiting from this!