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A Change in the Message: WBBM CBS Chicago Criticized for Editing Out Part of Interview with 4-Yr-Old About Shooting

Mon August 01 2011 4:58 pm
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CHICAGO BEARS RADIO -- WBBM Newsradio 780 "Traffic on the 8's"

VIDEO showing edited broadcast on WBBM CBS 2 Chicago compared to video that includes complete information in the interview with a four-year-old that changes the meaning of the report.

Two teenagers were injured by gunfire on the City of Chicago’s South Side in the 500 block of East 74th Street about 10:00 p.m. last Wednesday. An 18-year-old man was critically wounded and a 16-year-old girl was listed in good condition.

A news anchor on WBBM-TV introduces the interview with a lead quote, “and kids on the street as young a four were there to see it all unfold … and had a disturbing reaction” …

In the video, a freelance video stringer had asked a young boy who was near the crime scene whether he was afraid of the violence in the neighborhood. The four-year-old boy replies that he’s “not scared of nothin’.” The boy was also asked by the freelance videographer if he would “stay away from all these guns” when he grew up. The boy said, “No — I’m going to have me a gun!” (elapsed time 00:38 in the video above.)

The news anchor at this point interjects, “that is very scary indeed,” alluding to 4-year-old’s reply.

The video published by WBBM does not continue with the rest of the interview captured by the freelance videographer. The video and audio in entirety captures the boy saying, “I’m going to be the police.” Without that soundbite and video, the message that WBBM leaves the viewers believing is that the boy wants to grow up to be another gang banger on the street with a gun, but the boy actually aspires to be a police officer.

The complete video is credited to Maynard Institute for Journalism Education (

There’s no word on how the complete video got out in the open — whether it was an insider at WBBM or the freelancer or someone connected to the freelancer. It is also possible it was not a deliberate attempt to change the message of the report.

WBBM-TV communications director Shawnelle Richie issued the following statement about the news segment …
We accept responsibility for the mistakes that were made, both in the reporting and editing of the story. The video of the child should not have aired. As soon as news management identified the problem, they took immediate steps to ensure that the video would not air in subsequent newscasts. In addition, we have followed up with our employees to make sure that we all have learned from the mistakes that were made.

It is possible at that time of the night and early morning, the video was quickly edited to hit the early morning news, and that the true meaning of the report was simply changed as the report went to production.

CLEAR SKIES?  Weather Data for Monday, August 1st, 2011

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  • Current Conditions : 77.7F, Clear - 2:27 PM CDT Oct. 8
    Temperature: 77.7°F | Humidity: 48% | Pressure: 29.91in ( Falling) | Conditions: Clear | Wind Direction: SW | Wind Speed: 0.0mph
  • Tonight as of Oct. 8 3:16 AM CDT
    Tonight - Cloudy. Scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms in the evening. Lows in the mid 50s. Southwest winds 10 to 15 mph in the evening shifting to the northwest after midnight. Near the lake...gusts up to 30 mph after midnight. Chance of precipitation 50 percent.
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    Today - Partly sunny. Scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms late in the afternoon. Warmer and more humid. Highs in the upper 70s. Southwest winds 10 to 20 mph. Chance of precipitation 30 percent.
  • Friday as of Oct. 8 3:16 AM CDT
    Friday - Cloudy...breezy. Much colder. Highs in the upper 50s. North winds 15 to 25 mph with gusts up to 30 mph.


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