Friday, March 09, 2007

The role of Nancy Grace will be played by…Nancy Grace

NBC announced this week that CNN Headline News legal host Nancy Grace will be appearing in the season finale of “Law and Order: SVU.” She will play herself, giving legal commentary on a case involving the murder of a woman and her baby.

Now I’m not sure if Grace is considered a journalist in the same sense that NBC’s Andrea Mitchell is considered a journalist but here are some facts. Grace hosts two legal analysis programs on two separate, bona-fide news networks – CNN and Court TV – as a former prosecutor she writes articles for law journals and law reviews and she does investigative journalism reports for Court TV specials.

Based on that information, some people would classify Grace as a journalist. Whether Grace is indeed a journalist, I don’t think that it’s right for reporters, or even “hosts” affiliated with news networks to play themselves on TV or in movies.

Journalists shouldn’t be the subject of stories like TV or movie stars, they should be covering them. The danger lies in that someone just turning on the TV to SVU might see Nancy Grace and confuse her commentary and the rest of the fictional drama for the real thing. (You have to admit, crime dramas these days do a pretty good job with realism).

And besides that, it undermines our job as journalists to the general public. “Oh isn’t that actress in that show the journalist we get our news from?” That particular scenario is not exactly the picture of credibility for a news network.

What does it mean for us as journalists? Prepare yourself for more competition. Tara Reid might be after your job!



At Friday, March 09, 2007, Blogger Medill Media Watch said...

I think appearing in a movie or television show diminishes a journalist's credibility. Grace is certainly a character in her own right, but in appearing on Law and Order she is parodying herself -- in the same way Crossfire's James Carville did when he appeared in the movie "Old School."

Sure it makes for great entertainment. But is that what we should be aspiring to?


At Sunday, March 11, 2007, Anonymous je said...

But Carville and Grace aren't journalists...everyone knows that. Nancy Grace is a pundit of sorts and I personally don't classify her as a journalist. Have you seen her show. She too, is ridiculous...

At Saturday, March 31, 2007, Blogger ji said...

More and more the word journalist is becoming blurred and it may be more accurate to say "television personality." Constantly, I hear or read articles regarding journalists who dabble in Hollywood. Case in point, NBC 5's Amy Jacobson played herself in The Fugitive sequeal and ABC 7's Ryan Chiaverini quit television reporting to briefly purse an acting career in Los Angeles--when that failed, he returned to journalism. So, this behavior begs the question, are you becoming a journalist because you want to report or do you get into it because you get to be on television and a psuedo celebrity. I think in some cases (not all), it is more the latter than the former.
As for Nancy Grace, I do not view her as a journalist. In fact, I find much of her work to be unethical and biased.
But, bringing this discussion full circle, is it not the question, who is journalist these days. After all, some Miss America contestants, who have no formal training are popping up all over the news. Most have no background in journalism, but gosh, are they a pretty talking face. I honestly believe that the golden age of journalism has long passed. A close look must be taken to figure out if the title journalist is still correct for on-air reporters.


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