May 11, 2020

English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton wrote in 1839, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” I might add if put in the wrong hands, the pen can misrepresent the truth.I am ashamed of many in my chosen profession—communications.  Just within the last few weeks I have come across examples of “creative editing.” The most recent appeared this morning and prompted me to get up on my soapbox. NBC News is admitting that Chuck Todd deceptively aired a clip of Attorney General William Barr discussing the case of General Michael Flynn. As far as I know, Todd has not issued an apology for the deceptively edited clip. Earlier this spring, CBS News showed footage in a piece about the Coronavirus that was filmed in Italy but they once great news source attributed it to New York City. Having been in the news business for several decades, I know first hand that honest mistakes can be made but there is no excuse for CBS with its large staff, including fact checkers, to broadcast such a blatant lie. Just last week, NBC edited a piece to indicate Vice President Mike Pence was lifting only empty boxes while “delivering” PPEs. Turns out, Pence was joking and had actually lifted filled boxes. Jimmy Kimmel did apologize for the misrepresentation. CNN tactfully edited an interview with OAN News commentator Alex Salvi to change the meaning of  his comments. It took me three views of that tape to “see” the creative editing. Today’s technology makes it  easy to change the meaning of audio and video clips or even still photos. Even with my unsophisticated equipment, lack of experience and a non-existent staff, I could change the meaning of audio recorded. I know how important it is to “cut” some audio to fill a time slot. But the extraneous comments can be the ones   eliminated.  I could make my subject sound  better than he or she really was or worse. But I choose not to. Let them stand or fall according to what they really said without me editing. Having taken many news photos over the years, I have rebelled at taking the obligatory posed photos and instead waited to get something more natural. I know the power of media—having watched many years ago as traffic slowed down in front of our studio as we announced roads had become slippery. All media have great power and can sway peoples’ opinions. Just because we can and just because technology now provides us with tools to make it easy, doesn’t mean we should intentionally distort the news. The easier it is to “creatively edit” the greater our responsibility to provide an accurate account.

April 9, 2019

We have a story on Black Forest Broadcasting News today about proposed legislation designed to take guns away from dangerous people, temporarily for up to a year. The description of the bill sounds good and we hope it receives bi-partisan support. Senate Bill 293 would empower families and police officers to petition a court to temporarily remove firearms from someone who is a threat to themselves or others. The proposed bill would allow a county common pleas court to suspend an individual’s access to firearms for up to a year. The proposed Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPO) would require such individuals to immediately surrender their guns to police. The ERPO would also prohibit them from buying, selling or possessing firearms during the suspension.

In issuing an ERPO, the judge could also refer the person in crisis for evaluation to ensure that they get the help they need and the judge also has the flexibility of determining how long the suspension should be, up to one year. During the suspension period, the subject could request a hearing to have the ERPO rescinded. Once the suspension period ends, a hearing would be held to determine if the ERPO should be lifted or renewed. We think this is a common sense approach. While the law would not prevent all gun violence, it would take guns out of the hands of dangerous people without infringing on the rights of law abiding, mentally stable citizens. It would give law enforcement a tool in removing guns, temporality in an explosive situation and allows for mental health evaluation.. A local court would oversee the process and the defendant would have a right to a hearing about future possession of guns. For once, state lawmakers are making sense and we hope the proposed bill becomes law here in Pennsylvania..

March 9, 2018

THE BRADFORD ERA had an editorial this week saying it’s time to end Daylight Saving Time. We couldn’t agree more. Times have changed (no pun intended) since it was enacted. Congress tried to shove it down Americans’ throats claiming it would help farmers and school children. Farmers have lights on their tractors now and work in the dark a lot just to get crops in and/or harvested. Which is better—children going to school in the dark or coming home in the dark? I heard Paul Harvey say once that congress enacted DST so they would have an hour more of daylight in which to play golf. That is a better explanation than the others. Just another case of Washington being out of touch with the real world and that was several decades ago! Health and accidents are issues around changing clocks. I don’t care if we stay with standard time or got to DST permanently as Florida is trying to accomplish but the silly experiment should be ended!

February 5, 2018

Everybody seems to be overlooking the most important point about “The Memo.” It has nothing to do with who did what for what reason. It is scary to think a government agency can spy on American Citizens without following the rules. It’s similar to the IRS slow walking applications because of ideology. “What is good for the goose is good for the gander” or if they do it with  you, they can do it to you. If this sort of spying can be done, it will be done by the party in power, whichever one it is. We are no better than a banana republic. I am sure this is not what the founders had in mind.  It s a slippery slope and we all should be concerned.


November 15, 2017

I liked Civics in High School and have been a history buff all my life but I guess I never paid much attention to how we elect a governor and lieutenant governor in Pennsylvania. The process has come to light with the obvious animosity between Gov. Tom Wolf and Lt. Governor Michael J. Stack III. It is so bad, Gov. Wolf eliminated security for Stack because of Stack’s alleged mistreatment of staff. There is a movement in the legislature to change the way we elect the “ticket.” The proposal would allow a gubernatorial candidate to select his or her lieutenant governor the way presidential candidates choose their vice presidential running mates. I think the current method should be eliminated in favor of the proposal. It doesn’t seem fair for a governor to be saddled with someone he or she cannot get along with and who might even have opposite ideology. The lieutenant governor should be someone the governor feels could succeed him or her if necessary and carry out the agenda. The change would require a constitutional amendment—a lengthy process so it is important to get the proposal started quickly. What could Pennsylvania’s founders been thinking when they came up with such a wacky idea?—
Gerri Miller