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Saturday, April 4, 2009

Media Mush: KELO Misses Story on Minn. Bullying Bill

KELO offers the best TV news on this side of the state. Against KFSY's hyperventilations and KDLT's... well, KDLTness, that's not high praise.

And there are still too many occasions when my wife and I look at each other at the end of a report and say, "Not a story," or "We just learned nothing."

Case in point: Katie Janssen's story on a bullying bill (SF0971) pending in the Minnesota Senate (more info here and here). We learn nothing about the sponsor of the bill (Sen. Scott Dibble of Minneapolis) or the motivation behind the bill (among other things, to bring school policies in line with the Minnesota Human Rights Act). We don't even get enough information to live up to the KELO headline: "Some Say MN Bullying Bill Unnecessary." Some? Among the obligatorily blurred and cropped shots of students roaming the halls of Pipestone HS (including one ridiculously extended shot of a girl's blue-jeaned backside that might trigger existing harassment policies), we only hear from one person, Superintendent Jim Lentz, who never says SF0971 is unnecessary. Lentz appears to say current policy at Pipestone already covers the bullying addressed in Dibble's bill, but he never says every school in Minnesota has such policies.

Where are the some? Channel 11 in Minneapolis can find them, but not Channel 11 in Sioux Falls. KELO makes the mistake of interviewing a school administrator, a position one reaches in part by being trained to give mellow, uncontroversial answers to the media. KELO thus glances off the issue, missing the real controversy where Minnesota's religious right is portraying human rights and student safety as a mere "pretext" for indoctrination in "homosexuality, homosexual marriage, and unhealthy sexual behaviors among impressionable school children."

But KELO doesn't look for that story. KELO also doesn't seek out Pipestone students or parents who might have their own perspective on the necessity of protecting kids from bullying and the effectiveness of current policies. KELO just gives us a one-minute bowl of mush.

Of course, here I am on the couch not seeking those broader perspectives, either. Oh, wait: what's that comment section for?


  1. Here's how reporting is to be done:


    Madville Times has my nomination for the 2009 South Dakota I.F. Stone Award

  2. I'm humbled to be mentioned in the same sentence as the great Mr. Stone. Of course, I was really hoping someone might nominate me for a Sammy... ;-)

  3. I just found your site, and it seem pretty informative. I live just a stones throw west river, on the CRST side.
    I am not the greatest KELO land news fan, but I agree that their coverage is a bit more than the average for South Dakota. Have you checked out www.blackhillsfox.com?

  4. what do you expect when the news is produced by interns? not surprising they only interviewed 1 source for this story. if you interview 1 source, you're going to get mush 9 times out of 10.


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