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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Is it live or is it Memorex?

They promote it a live Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular -- even though the first thing CBS viewers see is a tape delayed conclusion to the 1812 Overture.

So it's a not all that jarring to hear Esplanade concert promoter David Mugar defend his annual event as entertainment and not news as a justification for using altered images of the city during the fireworks.

Silly me thought live means just that, real time viewing of events taking place. I thought the shot of the fireworks over the Statehouse was interesting, though racking my brain to think whether it was possible.

But when they cameras showed bursts above the Fenway Park pressbox, I knew we were looking at an alternate reality. The display would actually have been visible over the Green Monster -- at the other end of the park.

I've already bemoaned the liberties taken since the festivities were auctioned off to CBS. But creating false backgrounds to show off a city during a live event that already does a pretty good job of showcasing itself leaves me pondering the ethics of this particular television production. And I am apparently not alone:

Eric Deggans, a Florida-based media critic and regular panelist on CNN’s media critique show “Reliable Sources,’’ said the altered video presents a potential credibility problem for CBS.

“It is an ethical issue, and to say it’s not because the show was aired through CBS Entertainment is to imply that the entertainment side of CBS has no ethics,’’ Deggans said. “I think - especially in today’s media environment - the most important commandment for media is to not mislead the viewer. . . . If you’re a viewer who doesn’t know Boston, you’re getting a picture of the layout of the city that doesn’t exist.’’

I can wait until next year, when Paul Revere rides across Alaska to warn that Sarah Palin is coming.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I stopped watching the program years ago when it devolved into the 4th of July variety spectacular with the Boston Pops Orchestra acting as little more than the house band for a collection of middle of the road entertainers. It's no longer special, or even worth my time. I wish they would bring back the event as it was during the late Fiedler, and Williams eras.

David Mugar's excuse that the phonied up shots are OK because "it's an entertainment show, not the news" is wrong, because that program is widely known, and watched, it's not a piece of entertainment fiction. If he thinks it is, then perhaps the time has come for him to end his connection with it, accept our thanks for the good he did accomplish, and let someone else who will produce an honest broadcast to take over the reins.

July 08, 2011 10:08 AM  

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