NBC 26 Can Learn from Itself

WGBA NBC 26  | 8-24-16


On August 24 and 25, 2017, during its 6pm newscast, Green Bay’s NBC 26 (WGBA) featured coverage of the recent shooting of a young man by a Kewaunee County Sheriff’s deputy.  

First, watch NBC 26’s August 24th coverage of this story: 

NBC 26 Live at 6 (Recorded Aug 24, 2017, WGBADT)

Now, take in NBC 26’s August 25th coverage of the same story:

NBC 26 Live at 6 (Recorded Aug 25, 2017, WGBADT)

Can you spot the difference in the two stories in terms of bias?

In its August 24 coverage, notice how NBC 26 features Mr. Whitmire as a complete victim in this news package? For  90-seconds viewers are presented with a  story featuring sweet videos and photos, along with an interview of Mr. Whitmire’s mother-in-law who opines law enforcement acted inappropriately.

It is only in the last 10-seconds does the report note – in what can only be typified as an “oh, and by the way . . . “ – that law enforcement claim Mr. Whitmire was brandishing a knife and threatening others. In short, this report by NBC 26 is biased because it fails to provide proper context, and it spins the facts to portray Mr. Whitmire as just another innocent victim of law enforcement brutality.

Note: for another example of this type of biased reporting, consider the Green Bay Press-Gazette’s August 31, 2017 story titled:

A love story cut short, wife seeks answers to husband’s shooting by police

Now, NBC 26 can learn from its own, subsequent reporting on August 25. Notice how in this report, viewers are informed up-front that the investigation is still under way, many facts are still being ascertained, but that presently it appears that Mr. Whitmire was shot because he was threatening others with a deadly weapon. There is a noticeable lack of graphics or video making Mr. Whitmire a “sympathetic victim.” In short, NBC 26 reports on the facts as known, and leaves the editorializing and sensationalizing out of the story.

We hope NBC 26 will utilize its latter report as an exemplar for future reports on this type of story.

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