Why Show This?

October 3, 2005

On September 8, students saw a report on the rescue of an American hostage in Iraq.

Channel One News could have told this story without video or even pictures. An anchor could have just looked in the camera and read the teleprompter just like they often do on other news stories.

They had plenty of footage to choose from for the few seconds they showed the students. Channel One could have shown a stock photo of the American contractor Roy Hallums or they could have shown the State Department spokesperson announcing Hallums freedom.

(Obligation typed in “Hallums hostage” in Google and found a site maintained by the family over the months Mr. Hallums was held hostage. There are dozens of photos that Channel One could have obtained permission to use for its story. Below is an example of one.)

What Channel One did is what they usually do – they showed a very disturbing image. When they have a choice between “no gun to head” and “gun to head” they will pick the gun “shot.”

Channel One producers made a controlled and calculated decision to show students as young as ten Mr. Hallums with a terrorist’s rifle to his head. A decision to show something like this to middle school and fifth grade students had to have been approved by Channel One’s current president Judy Harris.

Obligation’s Jim Metrock said, “The people at Channel One News have never, ever understood the special nature of their young captive audience. Channel One executives are reckless – and I’m being charitable when I use that word. When people see a gun pointed at someone’s head, they can’t help but imagine another picture in their mind of a skull exploding and brain tissue and blood filling the room. Startling images help young eyes stay on the TV screen to watch the advertisements coming up. I hope to meet Judy Harris soon and I will ask her face-to-face why she is continuing to put these disturbing images into preteen classrooms and for that matter high school classrooms. Until I meet her, we can only wonder what makes her tick.”

[Channel One News footage of a terrorist pulling out a knife that will cut off the head of Nicholas Berg.]

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