When television lies

If you watch coverage of a live event, do you expect to see reality or a stage show?

The other night, while watching CBS’ coverage of the Boston Esplanade fireworks, I thought something was up when I saw this shot.

fireworks_statehouse.jpg

The Massachusetts Statehouse is fairly close to the Charles River, but it’s not this close.

But it was this shot that gave away what CBS was up to.

fireworks_fenway.jpg

It’s a lovely image. It’s also a phony one. The fireworks behind home plate at Fenway Park is an impossibility. The Charles River, from where they were being fired, is in the other direction.

Today, the Boston Globe called out CBS and producer of the program...


David Mugar, the Boston-area businessman and philanthropist who has executive produced the show for nine years, confirmed yesterday that the footage was altered. He said this was the first year such alterations were made.

Mugar said the added images were above board because the show was entertainment and not news. He said it was no different than TV drama producer David E. Kelley using scenes from his native Boston in his show “Boston Legal” but shooting the bulk of each episode on a studio set in Hollywood.

“Absolutely, we’re proud to show scenes from our city,” Mugar said. “It’s often only shown in film or in sporting matches. We were able to highlight great places in Boston, historical places with direct ties to the Fourth. So we think it was a good thing.”

If one follows the logic, one might fairly question whether the fireworks themselves actually were being shot off.

A media ethicist told the paper it sends a number of wrong messages, including that ethics don’t matter if it’s not the news department.

(h/t: Ted Canova)

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