Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Credibility in News Interviews

When it comes to the credibility of the person being interviewed, it could make or break the story. Readers and/or listeners may decide to take the story seriously, and in extreme cases, whether to take you as a journalist seriously. If you go out and interview the average person about deep space exploration and the problems that can occur with it and then write your entire article based solely off of the information they give you, it has the potential make you look foolish by demonstrating to your audience that you think this is a credible enough source to write a story about it. In the case of the two missing girls Lizzy and Lyric, we have three examples available to us for evaluation: a self proclaimed medium, Missy, the mother of one of the girls, and Drew, the father of the other girl.

For starters, let's look at the medium. Common knowledge tells us that mediums (otherwise know as psychics) are not creditable sources. But why? First, there is a lack of either physical and scientific evidence that confirms these peoples' ability. Secondly, a quick internet search will show you more than enough ways to scam a person by acting like a medium. The same search will probably be able to tell you how to spot who is being genuine in their attempts at other world communication and who is a fraud. With the likelihood of frauds and the amount of non-believers in the world, these two reasons alone are enough to discredit most that call themselves mediums. For argument's sake, let us take a look at the medium showed in class. While it is true that this opportunity will in likelihood be a once in a lifetime occurrence, it only makes the interview intriguing rather than creditable.

To this lady's credit, (not credibility) she drove an extensive amount of time to try her hand at helping the two girls and their families. The medium seemed for all the world to be connecting to another dimension or world based off of her actions: flustered speech and movements, describing how she felt as she connected with one of the girls spiritually, even going so far as to say that she saw binoculars in her mind which symbolize being watched. However, when she and her actions are looked at closely, it could have also very well been a fraud; this doubt is already enough to cripple one's credibility from a reader's or listener's perspective. An example of her potentially making things up on the spot can be recognized right away when she states "Lizzy needs help." Being quite frank, it is fairly obvious she needs to be helped seeing as she has gone missing. A less obvious example can be found when she describes herself struggling to breathe and it feels like her chest is being pushed down or she is being suffocated. There was a chance, at the time, that the girls could have still been in the lake and presumably had drowned, i.e. suffocated. She also spoke of a burgundy truck being involved in some way; the simple reasoning behind this could be that she saw a burgundy truck drive by off camera. In addition to potential fabrication, mediums, real or fake, tend to go on a lead that someone gives them with a question such as if it is a man? Could it be a sex offender? Do you think they were raped? All of these questions came after she said she felt "naked with my legs up." These questions fueled that fire so she kept on that line of thought for an extended period of time. In sum, the credibility of this medium isn't to be taken seriously unless evidence or something of substance can come from her readings and the credibility of mediums in general should be highly questioned before using them as legitimate sources in a story.

Family Members
On perhaps an entirely different end of the spectrum of those that can be interviewed lies the victims' families. Considering there were two separate interviews conducted, but they were both of family members, they will both be covered here in a comparison scenario. Interviewing family members can be trick business as you don't want to say something that could offend or irritate them to the point where they could potentially end the interview, but you don't want to get the bland, straightforward answers that don't require any thought either. It's these in between questions where the family's credibility may begin to be questioned. It's fine to ask what the girls were like, their habits, their friends, the adults they frequently had contact with because parents and families could and should know these things. However, when it comes to asking if they think it is possible for someone in the family to be guilty, truth could be cast to the wayside to protect one's image or simple delusion may blind them from the truth.

In the interview with Lyric's grandmother, she seemed extremely adamant that no one in the family had anything to do with the girls' disappearance. She even went so far as to talk about where her prime suspect son was at the exact time that the disappearance would have occurred stating "I had talked to him not ten minutes prior (to the incident)." Grandma seemed so confident that it wasn't any member of the family that it was actually convincing. This, taken into consideration along with her extremely optimistic attitude toward finding the girls and the way she spoke about them made it hard for anyone not to believe what she was saying. In actuality, however, her supplied aliases need to be verified before any real credibility can be attributed to her.

The interview with Lizzy's father was, by comparison, a 180 degree difference, (although it was speculated that he was heavily medicated at the time of the interview, which was much later than the former). Perhaps the wear and tear of the search was catching up with him and he was just sick of talking about it at the time. There wasn't much of a credibility issue with the father on account of not many in depth questions were asked; again this could be attributed to the timing of the interview as well as the state of mind he was in at the time. The point remains, though, that when it is a family member being interviewed, the basics of the case and victims involved may be the only "real" thing that they say and this should

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