Some say this is the motto of the local news If It Bleeds, It Leads. Market research seems to agree. Stories of crime and violence increase ratings for local news. That’s why news directors deliver more crime-related stories to their audiences. This presents ethical questions as sometimes lines are crossed.
“Nightcrawler” is a new feature film starring Jake Gyllenhaal who portrays a man desperate for work. Finding a group of freelance camera crews who film crashes, fires, murder and other bloody business, Gyllenhaal’s character forces his way into the business of nightcrawling–where each police siren could represent a windfall and victims are converted into dollars. As one news shooter says Never go to a crime scene before the police arrive and always leave before the police leave. That advice is not heeded in this film.
Rene Russo plays a veteran of the bloody local TV news biz. She helps him find his way through the business while Gyllenhaal’s character blurs the line between observer and participant to become the star of his own story.
Is the film sensationalizing? Is it a realistic view of the local news business? We’ll have to wait till we can see it. The film will be available on Netflix, Amazon, and other sources in March.