COMMENTS: Annals of Non-Journalism

It turns out that NBC's in-house physician Nancy Snyderman adopted the daughter of a teenager when she was working as a surgeon in Little Rock 27 years ago. The birth mother and the daughter had never met -- until now. Dr Nancy and her production team were on hand to act, as it were, as the mawkish midwives to the renewed relationship. Kate meet Cheryl. Cringe-inducing hugs all round. Such self-indulgent emotional exhibitionism cannot be categorized as news by any stretch of the imagination.

ABC's Making Babies series, having covered egg-selling twentysomethings with Cynthia McFadden on Monday, turned to sperm donation with Ron Claiborne. He introduced us to Todd Whitehurst, a serial ejaculator with multiple offspring, one of whom, Virginia, he meets for the first time. And he gave a plug to Debora Spar, author of The Baby Business, who finds such unregulated mass progeny unacceptable.

Claiborne introduced his journalism with fiction, using a clip from Hollywood's imaginary Delivery Man. Maybe he was inspired by his colleague David Wright last week, who used a movie clip from The Amityville Horror to illustrate his story about houses that are hard for realtors to sell. Or maybe Claiborne was inspired by his colleague Brian Ross, who illustrated his coverage last Friday of the drone assassination of Hakimullah Mehsud with a clip from the movie Zero Dark Thirty. Using movie clips to substitute for actuality footage is not journalism.

Furthermore, Claiborne called Todd's relationship with Virginia a version of the Modern American Family just as, earlier in the newscast, his anchor Diane Sawyer had referred to Mayor de Blasio as having a Modern American Family in her chat with George Stephanopoulos. This is not journalism about demographic trends. It is just shameless cross-promotion for ABC's primetime sitcom line-up.


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