If you’re not up to speed – first watch this video:
Casey is the larger boy being initially attacked, and Richard is the smaller boy who is thrown to the ground at the end of the video. The video surfaced on YouTube last week and became somewhat of a viral hit. So much so, there are now songs, parody videos, computer game versions among the many ‘fan’ videos created. While I can completely associate with Casey’s situation, I also subscribe to the view that violence begets violence and independent of the fact that he may have snapped in response to the taunts and attacks, it has not made the situation any better. But that’s not what has me riled to the core…
On Sunday 20/03, A Current Affair ran a special episode with an exclusive interview with Casey. As sad as it was to hear Ben McCormack paint Casey as “some sort of superhero” (and that’s a direct quote), it did give us some insight into a boy who had seen his fair share of bullying. It was entirely one-sided, however it was a ‘celebration’ of what Casey represented to the world: the victim that fought back. The classic underdog story.
Fine. We’ve heard from the kid. His moment in the sun. Let’s move on.
Nothing is ever that simple when it comes to the ratings-dependent, carcass-picking ways of “current affairs” television in Australia in 2011.
On Monday 21/03, Today Tonight lead with a story from James Thomas who sat down with Richard to hear “his side of the story”. A hollow attempt by the bully to justify his actions, but what can a 12 year old do, when he’s become the target of GLOBAL hate? (Thank you, YouTube). The interview footage with Richard was TT exclusive, however the intercut interview with Casey was lifted straight from the ACA story on Sunday and inserted as they needed it – however it was zoomed in so that the ACA/Ch9 watermarks were framed out of shot, making the footage look like TT had collected it themselves.
It’s standard fare between the two – with both shows “stealing” footage from each other using techniques like that so that the competitor gets no credit for actually sending a crew to film something (no matter how bottom-dwelling or ambulance-chasing it may be). Both are guilty, we all accept that, let’s move on.
On Monday 21/03, A Current Affair lead with a repeat of the interview with Casey almost entirely, with some additional footage and it slightly edited to allow a new narrative. OK, it’s their story, they can do what they want. But then, at 23 minutes into the show (after a nothing story about Rowena Wallace – don’t start me on THAT), an example of the fastest editing you’ve ever seen… Almost the entire interview with Richard that TT aired at the start of their program was dropped into ACA, with the TT & “exclusive” watermarks blurred out and the story run as if it was theirs – with a Ch9 & ACA logo to boot. They even kept James Thomas’s narration (he should ask for a royalty accordingly).
I submit this, for your consideration:
The way both programs have latched onto the kids central to this story like limpets (vultures?) & using them under the guise of “telling their story” to push their own fragile agendas is appalling. This example proves that “current affairs” television is the oxymoron of 2011. It also shows that the producers concerned (apart from having great skill in using the equipment provided them) will stop at nothing to get your eyes on their program. Nothing. Stealing the footage and passing it off as your own is one thing (TT), but slightly editing a story aired on a rival network’s program not even 10 minutes before and passing it off as your own – with no credit (ACA)- is a sad indictment on both programs that used to be heralded as the pinnacle of actual current affairs journalism. TT & ACA – we all expect so much more than this from both of you.
God help us all.
Today Tonight – Mon to Fri 6:30pm, Ch7
A Current Affair – Sun to Fri 6:30pm, Ch9