Channel 2 Reporter Exploits Child in ‘Exclusive’ Robbery Story

girlTelevision is certainly a visual medium. Local news is about striking a balance between attracting viewers and reporting the story.

Tuesday night, WCBS reporter Weijia Jiang stepped over the line of decency.

In telling the story about a string of robberies in a Brooklyn community while some of the victims slept, Jiang spoke to an eight-year-old girl about the incident. Her mother also talked to Jiang, who translated from Spanish.

Many aspects are wrong about the girl being interviewed for the “exclusive” piece.  For starters, the first taped clip showed the girl saying “I was about to cry,” as she became inconsolable. (Video clips of the report below)

As she continued to cry the girl belted out, “He was going to kill my ma.”

The scene was “inexcusable,” one veteran TV reporter tells Tuned In.

“I know I would not have done that,” the longtime city reporter says. “[It’s] shameful and exploitative.”

jiangIf that wasn’t bad enough, the station made another poor decision, giving the girl’s name, which Tuned In will not, and showing her face.

Ironically, two adult women were also interviewed by Jiang for the story. They were not named; only one was identified as a “23-year-old.”

Jiang’s report concluded with one more dramatic quote from the young girl, still visibly shaken.

“He’s going to come back and nobody’s going to hear us when we knock on the walls,” she said.

For an industry that lives and dies on stories with sensational value, this was as inappropriate a moment as I can recall. Jiang led into the quote saying the girl was afraid, but the station showed no concern about retaliation against her family.

4 thoughts on “Channel 2 Reporter Exploits Child in ‘Exclusive’ Robbery Story

  1. Ted David

    “Why does this surprise anyone? The local news each night strives to become THE MOST incredible thing you will see all day. And each night it has to beat what it did the previous night to hold claim to that title. Thus exploiting a child does not suprise. “We want dirty laundry.”

    Local TV has become a carnival of idiot reporters interviewing idiots on the street about meaningless stories and then tossing back to idiots on the anchor desk, all the while hoping to get more idiots to watch.

    Howard Beale was on to something all those years ago.

    Reply
  2. Jim Lokay

    You know, Ted, a lot of us “idiots” fight the good fight every day. Most will refuse to exploit a child, or harass a murder victim’s family, or act out of the realm of human decency for a sound bite. We know respect for our industry is in short supply, so we comport ourselves in a way that doesn’t compromise what fragile goodwill there is left.

    Reply
    1. Ted David

      Jim, just what IS the “good fight” these days?

      And note I have been in the business for 45 years, at a pretty high level, in the #1 market, and I, myself, hold it in contempt at this point. Blame the ratings race. It forces people and newsrooms into untennable positions where eyeballs are more important than common decency.

      When then former NY Gov and VP Nelson Rockfeller was found dead in the sack with a TV producer, ABC Radio sent me to Roosevelt Hospital. As his widow, Happy Rockefeller approached, the desk was on the walkie talkie (no cell phones then) telling me to ask her for reax. I refused. Guess what? Nothing happened.

      In the end, whomever is holding the mic can decide to do the right thing or do what we see every night. Perhaps, as you suggest, you are different, and thus in the minority. Kudos to you for doing your job and maintaining your humanity. Would that your colleagues did the same.

      Reply
  3. Joe

    Just another rookie reporter trying to make a name for herself on the backs of scared people.
    This is sickening.
    Channel 2 wont take any action or make any apology since they are too desperate for anyone to watch them.

    Reply

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