Trading dignity for clicks

“Free comedy tip, slick: the pie gag’s only funny if the sap’s got dignity!” ~ Krusty the Clown.

These days it seems like everything is a story, including the screw-ups by reporters themselves.

I’ve noticed that more things don’t stay behind the scenes anymore. In the past, if you slip up on the air or get embarrassed on a live shot, you laugh it off, know that it would only air once, and move on. Then, with the rise of YouTube, bloopers had a better chance of making it online, but only if someone just happened to be watching and just happened to feel like recording it and posting it online. If you were in a small market with fewer viewers, it wasn’t much to worry about.

But now those bloopers are being posted for the world to see – by reporters’ bosses.

Bloopers, gaffes, annoying pedestrians interfering with live shots, they’re all fair game. Many even get their own headline on the news organization’s web site. The simple reason it happens: it gets clicks, and drives traffic to a station’s web site or social media page

All at the expense of your dignity.

The other week, KMBC sports director Johnny Kane was doing a live report from the ALCS, when a rowdy fan interrupted his live shot and scared the bejezzus out of him.

Funny right? We all had a good laugh. But the video wasn’t posted by an anonymous viewer on YouTube. It came from the station itself, posted by managing editor Karen Yancey.

Screen shot 2014-10-28 at 9.48.54 AM

I don’t know where the decision came from. Maybe it came from Yancey, or the station’s news director. But personally, I don’t like the idea that my bloopers are being used as a story, or as clickbait. Be wary of any news director more concerned with posting your behind-the-scenes antics than the work you create.

News managers should be trying to promote their employees, and share the good work they are doing for viewers. They shouldn’t be putting their on-air gaffes out there for the world to see. Acknowledging it happened is one thing – laughing it off on the air, commenting about it on Facebook, etc. – but posting it as an article for people to share and spread and watch repeatedly turns your reporter into a joke. As far as the internet is concerned, Johnny Kane isn’t the sports director at KMBC, he’s the guy who got scared out of his shoes by a fan.

Maybe the idea to post it came from Kane himself, as a way to poke fun at the incident. In that respect, it’s a little more understandable, because he’s trying to own up to it. But there’s a fine line between acknowledging it and profiting from your misfortune. Acknowledge it and move on. Don’t sacrifice your dignity and your work for YouTube stardom.

People who get kicked in the nuts on YouTube may get lots of hits and clicks, but they don’t get any respect.


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