When Video Editing Doesn’t Serve it’s True Purpose

In the broadcast media time is always the enemy.

As a TV Producer, you become accustomed to every day being unique and different, but there is one thing that never changes and that’s how much programming time you have.

The point of video editing is to shrink content down into digestible pieces, arrange a beginning, middle and end to stories and enhance a narrative by adding music, effects and video so that you can air as many stories as possible in your limited time frame.

video editing changes story

Editing left out the most important part of an interview with nutritionist Ellie Krieger and she’s left to defend herself on Twitter (Photo Courtesy: NYsun.com)

It is not to change meaning, or take out facts that would inherently change the point of view, but all too often that is exactly what happens.

The Today Show – GMO Labeling

I’m a regular watcher of the Today show, I enjoy their pace, attitude and variance of stories (plus my friend Willie Geist is a host) but as I watched a piece on GMO’s in our food supply on Friday I couldn’t help but feel a little confused.

Watch the Today Show story here

(Before you get your feathers ruffled, this is not an article for or against GMO’s (although I happen to be very against) this is about video editing as a journalistic tool)

The story revolves around a hot button topic – whether or not GMO’s should be labeled on the foods we eat. Makes sense, since this year nearly half of all U.S. states have introduced bills requiring labeling.

They presented both sides of the story, as good journalists should, but the sound bite they used from registered dietician Ellie Krieger gave the impression she was on the pro-GMO side of the argument, which seemed peculiar.

Krieger: “The products that are genetically engineered that are in the food supply now are widely considered safe and are as nutritious as their non-genetically modified counterpart.”

Turns out my confusion was warranted, according to Robyn O’Brien writing for the Prevention Magazine Blog, the interviews were edited to remove the most important part, Kriegers conclusion that Genetically Modified foods (GMO’s) should be labeled:

video editing changes the story


Let’s not make this issue too complex when there is a simple conclusion:   If you’re doing a story on labeling of genetically modified foods and one of your expert interviews says “I believe they should be labeled” that should be in the final cut!

Krieger went on to explain, that her quote used in the piece correctly reflects her view that people who can’t afford organic shouldn’t fear their food, but that’s not how it was portrayed in the piece. She came off as in favor of GMO’s and against labeling, the editing changed the perception of her opinion.

When Partnerships Get in the Way of Journalism

The question is why? I’m not here to accuse the Today show of ethical issues, but we’re naïve to think sales and marketing partnerships don’t often get in the way of authentic news gathering.

All of the companies below donated money to fight against GMO labeling in California. Could some of these businesses sponsor the Today Show and if so, is it reasonable to conclude could present some pressure to sway their final edit?

Sorry folks, but this happens every day in the media, it’ s not just the Today Show or just the GMO labeling debate.

companies who oppose GMOs

What do you think…does sales and marketing adversely affect journalism and if so, where do you find your truth?



About Brian Clapp

Brian Clapp has worked in the broadcast media for over 14 years as a writer, editor, producer & news director. After beginning his career in Atlanta at CNN/Sports Illustrated, he switched coasts to Seattle to work at Fox Sports Northwest. In 2010, Brian began pursuing a new found passion on the digital media side, launching a successful website and then taking on the role of Director of Content for WorkinSports.com & WorkinEntertainment.com.

Recently Brian has become addicted to Google+ and LinkedIn so add him to your circles and make him a contact. No seriously, you should.


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