A freelance photographer asked a young boy who was near the crime scene if he was scared by the violence in the neighborhood, and if he would “stay away from all these guns” when he grew up. The boy said, “No — I’m going to have me a gun!” (The exchange comes at the :38 mark of the above video.)
What the video doesn’t show you is the exchange that followed, in which the boy revealed that his plans to have a gun were because he wants to be a police officer. The reporter can be heard saying, “Oh, that’s okay then.” That portion of the video (which can be seen at the 1:00 mark, above) was edited out by WBBM, but was sent to The Maynard Institute, blurred slightly in an attempt to protect the identity of the young boy.
Shawnelle Richie, WBBM’s communications director, gave TVSpy a statement from the station via email:
We accept responsibility for the mistakes that were made, both in the reporting and editing of the story. The video of the child should not have aired. As soon as news management identified the problem, they took immediate steps to ensure that the video would not air in subsequent newscasts. In addition, we have followed up with our employees to make sure that we all have learned from the mistakes that were made.
First, that's a weak ass generic statement of apology.
Second, There were no mistakes in reporting or editing that piece.
The people who put that report together knew exactly what and how they wanted to do it. On the reporting side, its clear they wanted a dramatic statement that illustrates the all pervasive violence in the inner city and how its affected the people who live there to the point where a toddler even advocates carrying a gun. So they find a little black kid and ask him leading questions until they get the answer they want. Unfortunately for them, he wasn't some talkative little violent animal chomping at the bit to commit a crime but a thoughtful child who knows right from wrong. And he answered the question in a way they didn't expect which leads us to the editing room.
I've done video editing and thanks to social networks like YouTube so has half the world and we all know that in editing anything you have to think, plan and work out every move. Nothing ends up in the final cut that you didn't want there. The ONLY kind of mistake you can make in editing is not being observant and missing something that dips into the frame, like a boom mic. Or someone in the background doing something strange. If something like that makes it on air THAT'S a mistake. Cutting off someone's full response to a direct question is NOT a mistake in the least. It's a deliberate. And as such it should be a fire-able action.
The news crew from producer to reporter to photographer to editor knew exactly how they wanted to portray that incident. They knew the angle they wanted to come from and the wording and imagery that would be most effective when they broadcasted it. No mistakes were made in reporting that incident.
The parents of that child should sue the station and the people involved individually to force them in court to explain why they decided to report that incident in the manner in which they did. If I were the parent of that child, that station would be taken apart brick by brick with the NAACP, Al Sharpton and Jessie Jackson (yes, I would involve them) all making as much of it as they can until REAL answers are given.
The black community has enough substantive and image issues to deal with, without some assholes literally making shit up to push their agenda or get higher ratings.