Thursday, January 5, 2017
CNN Airs Self-Produced Chicago Docu
Only at the conclusion of the program did viewers get a subtle clue about the film’s origins. A credit line read: “Produced by Chicago.”
CNN, in other words, reserved two hours for a film about a subject made under the editorial control of the subject itself.
The network said it has no concerns about the film, called “Now More Than Ever: The History of Chicago.” But experts in documentary filmmaking had a few.
“The cardinal rule is that you have to be honest with your viewers or readers,” said Tom Bettag, a visiting professor of journalism at the University of Maryland and former network news producer told The Washington Post. “If there had been a clear disclosure, I’d find it hard to say that that was terribly wrong. That said, to have avoided a full disclosure speaks volumes.”
He added, “Journalism’s first obligation is to the viewer. There is a clear understanding between the audience and a serious news organization that the program is being produced following news standards. To find out after the fact that a program was produced with the approval of the subject and by their people is a jolt. . . . Viewers can’t help but feel betrayed. They should, because it is clearly a betrayal.”
The Chicago film was directed and edited by Peter Pardini, whose uncle is Lou Pardini, the group’s keyboardist. It largely celebrates the musical group, but it does include segments and interviews about conflict among its various members and a period in which the group was abusing drugs. It also references the death of original guitarist Terry Kath, who died from a self-inflicted gunshot in 1978.
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Posted 3:07:00 AM