• Dave Erickson

A Tragedy?! Let's Take A Selfie!

Mass shooting in Orlando?


Shooting outside Parliament?


14 dead, 21 injured?


Little boy drowns?


Nothing says top-quality journalism like a photograph capturing a seminal moment in time. And there's nothing more compelling than the face of a self-serving, narcissistic reporter front and center at the scene of a tragedy. I mean, how else can we grasp the gravitas of a story?

Last Tuesday was National Selfie Day. Yep, that's a thing. These days though, for local TV news reporters, EVERY day is Selfie Day.

In Orlando, the 50 dead bodies weren't even cold when reporter Suzanne Boyd of WPEC-TV in West Palm Beach posted a smiling photo to capture the moment.

Forget WPEC, she should be working at Me-TV.

Boyd was rightfully criticized across social media for her insensitivity, not just for this picture, but also for her subsequent defense of it, "We're all allowed to smile," she wrote on Twitter.

As Scott Jones, who runs television news insider website, FTVLive, responded...

"No one said you can't smile Suzanne, but not sure you need to post it at the scene of where over 100 people were shot and more than half of them are dead. I know it's hard for some TV types to understand this, but today the story is not about you, it's about the victims."

Jones has waged a longstanding crusade against this sort of conceited, self-important ridiculousness. And it's a testament to just how run amok it's become that nary a day goes by when his site doesn't have yet another example of it.

Just what is it exactly that possesses these people to do this? How desperately starved for attention does one have to be? How callous? How void of basic human decency? These neomaxi-zoom-dweebie-fame-chasing-quasi-pseudo-journalist-sanctimonious hacks are an abyss of need that can never be filled.

How about I show up when your career dies and take a smiling selfie? Hopefully, it'll look as good as this...

Selfie at the scene of a fatal boat accident? Well done Haley Smith! Your bosses at KSL in Salt Lake City must be proud of your journalistic enterprise... and, certainly wowed by your impressive ability to see the importance of tact in light of tragedy.

Devastating tornados in Kansas? Need to know the latest? Not to worry, KWCH's Jade DeGood is on it!

Never mind the 25 homes destroyed or damaged. Never mind the displaced families who've lost everything. You've been up all night. The real story is YOU.

Then there's this guy.

Tim Calahan from Bakersfield's KERO-TV shows up in San Bernardino, California where a radical Islamic sympathizer killed more than a dozen people, where Calahan meets NBC's Matt Lauer, and is clearly so enamored, he posts his pearly whites on Instagram with a humble caption.

A crazy few days?

14 dead.

Yeah, positively nutty.

Like Jones over at FTVLive said at the time, "We don't expect a reporter from Bakersfield to know any better, but we sure as hell expected Matt Lauer to."

From these hacks to the idiot who bullied Anderson Cooper for not taking a selfie with him following a shooting in Ottawa, the local television news business has fallen in a coup to the soldiers of egocentric, self-absorbed behavior. It's where vanity trumps sensitivity, where callousness overrides rational thought, and where individualistic need prevails over public service.

It's a beast with an insatiable appetite for self-indulgence. Where reporting the news is less important than being the news. Where the food chain is me first, viewer second. A "look at me" culture fed by the realization that you can't be an actual celebrity in local TV news, so you endeavor to make yourself one.

But sadly for them, at the end of the news day, they're left with nothing more than a weak report, a quenchless thirst for relevance... and a smartphone.

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