“They shot the boy in the head.”

April 25, 2006
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From Jim Metrock:

After ten years of reporting on the content on Channel One, I shouldn’t be shocked by anything they do. But I was today.

This morning I received an email from a parent in Virginia. His 12-year-old daughter told him that she would rather read in the hallway rather than sit in her classroom and see what she saw yesterday on Channel One News.

The story she was referring to was “Child Soldiers of Uganda.” Channel One News devoted their entire show to this one story.

I had read the script on Monday, but didn’t watch the show on Channel One’s web site. I noticed that once again Channel One was filling up a show with footage provided by people outside their company. In this case, the film was shot over three years ago by three college student who have since gone on to create a nonprofit organization called Invisible Children to help raise awareness of these atrocities in Uganda. These young filmmakers have done an admirable thing. The problem lies in Channel One’s reckless disregard for the sensitivities of its audience.

The 2003 film was called “Invisible Children: Rough Cut” and it was from this film that Channel One selected clips to show its captive audience. One has to understand that in order to make a much shorter report from the much longer film, Channel One producers handpicked each scene.  They chose to include the telling of the young boy being shot in his bed. The Channel One producers chose to shock students even further by adding the clip of a man saying, “They shot the boy in the head.” Why was that necessary? It wasn’t unless you want ever young person’s eyes on the classroom TV screen.

All the pictures shown in this article are from the actual April 24, 2006 Channel One program shown to middle school students.

Here students see a picture of the eight-year-old who Channel One News says was intentionally shot in the head while he slept. This is the stuff of nightmares not only for children but for adults.

Script:

MAN: THEY STARTED KICKING THE DOORS AND SAID, ‘YOU OPEN THE DOOR, GUYS WHO ARE INSIDE.’ THEN FOR US, WE JUST HIDE UNDER THE BED.

MAN: THEY WERE HARSH ON THE PEOPLE ON THE STUDENTS. THEY WERE MOVING FROM ONE BED TO ANOTHER REMOVING EACH AND EVERYBODY.

JASON: TRAGICALLY, ONE EIGHT-YEAR-OLD BOY WAS DELIBERATELY SHOT AND KILLED IN HIS SLEEP.

MAN: THEY SHOT THE BOY IN THE HEAD.

 

Sixth-graders forced to watch Channel One, see a young boy saying what will happen to him if he is abducted at night.

In case, students can’t hear what is said on this terrifying
report, Channel One News has the words on the screen.

BOY: I FEAR REBELS BECAUSE IF THEY ABDUCT ME, I AM GOING TO DIE IN THE BUSH.

JACOB: THEY (the rebels) SAY THAT NOW YOU ARE THINKING ABOUT HOME. SO WE BETTER KILL YOU. SO THEY KILL YOU. BUT THEY DON’T KNOW WHAT IS IN YOUR HEART YOU SEE.
Deconstructing this scene:

This is right before a commercial break. Channel One has to “tease” the students to keep their interest in the story.

Channel One’s producer’s have many choices of images to use here. They chose to use footage of a rebel holding an automatic rifle. The subtext: Somebody might be killed after this Gatorade commercial, so kids don’t open your textbooks, you might miss somebody being blown away.

Channel One’s insensitivity to its younger audience is almost incomprehensible.

The middle school girl that found this episode upsetting is absolutely correct in feeling that way. When I saw the video I felt sick on a couple of different levels.

On one level I felt sick knowing unsuspecting young people were going to start their school day watching this horror. I felt sick because I knew there are few teachers and principals who will take the time to preview Channel One News. I felt sick because after years of watching this show, I knew that Channel One News producers have an unexplainable fascination with guns. Guns on a classroom TV screen are a sure bet to get attention. Channel One uses images of people carrying guns and firing guns more times that a parent would want to know. I was afraid of what I would see next on this report. (Channel One News once showed security camera footage of the two Columbine shooters carrying their guns as they walked through the school’s cafeteria. This company has a long history of irresponsible decision making.)

Do these images have an effect on students? Channel One would probably argue that kids see so much on their home TV that they can handle the uncomfortable material on their program. That brings me to the second email I received.

This one was sent last week before the Virginia one. It is from a teacher in a Western state that did not want Channel One in his classroom or school. He helped his fellow teachers understand that Channel One News shouldn’t be in their classrooms and last November the teachers voted to stop watching Channel One. Last week he sent me an email, this is part of it (emphasis in bold is mine):

“At our school, as I think I mentioned before, PTO is funding for new sets. Teachers wanting to continue TV current events are currently doing so with CNN (on C1’s sets!) and are much happier with the non-commercial presentation. My principal is happier with it gone and thinks our kids are dismissing from school (right after we’d air C1) in a much more calm manner with it gone. It was interesting for me to hear him make that observation, since you and I both know of C1’s shock value approach to keeping a kid’s attention, but he never watched the program and was a bit perplexed and pleased by the ripple effect.

Add another reason for schools, especially middle schools, to stop showing Channel One. When a school gives up local control, this is what happens.

Watching Channel One News is a terrible way for any student of any age to start a school day.

 

A few recent examples of disturbing content on C1N:

All Horror Day

Channel One Gets Brutal

Ax Murderer Spoof Goes Too Far

Added April 26, 2006
Channel One knows they have a potential public relations nightmare on their hands. The company quickly put up a self-serving page entitled “Viewers Respond to Special Report on Uganda’s ‘Invisible Children.’” Of course, Channel One has only received praise for bringing, without warning or notice, this powerful, macabre report to a captive audience of preteens. Channel One believes if they pay lobbyists and public relation firms enough money that everything will be OK. They believe they can “spin” their way out of any mistake. They can’t. Truth trumps their spin, helped greatly by the advent of the Internet.

Notice that not one of the six gushing notes of praise are signed. This is typical Channel One News. Legitimate news organization believe in attribution. Channel One believes differently. They mention at the bottom that names are withheld because of privacy. It doesn’t say who made that decision. Did each writer ask that their name not be used or did Channel One decide not to publish the names? Did Channel One receive any negative comments about this disturbing report? Would they ever publish an email or letter that says something negative about their TV show? They would if they were a legitimate news organization. They don’t because the company is run by people more concern with marketing than journalism.

As with the all-white Channel One News “advisory board” that refuses to fully identify themselves, the public rightfully tends to discount words said by people who want their identities withheld.

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