Sixteen-year-old Corey Worthington recently threw a party involving alcohol for hundreds of kids at his Aussie home while his parents were on vacation, resulting in a $200,000 fine. While his antics were careless, his January 14th appearance on Australia's news program, A Current Affair, had me more appalled at the journalism than anything else. Here's a clip of his interview:
The reporter who interviewed Worthington was smug as she chastised the boy for his irresponsibility but she took it one step further when she demanded he take off his sunglasses and apologize to his parents, neighbors and Australia for what he had done. Worthington had no problem apologizing, even if it was nonchalantly, but refused to take his glasses off because they were "famous" and people liked them. The reporter was not the least amused. But what more could she have expected from a 16-year-old who was getting his 15 minutes of fame?
Perhaps she should be chastised for her awful reporting skills. While A Current Affair is known for being a tabloid news program in Australia, it is still concerning to see a journalist make such a bold move. There is a professional standard that needs to be upheld when interviewing someone, regardless of what the person has done. She even went so far as to tell him to take a good look at himself and think about what he has done. Apparently she has taken the role of the moral police.
While Worthington is soaking up the limelight (including web sites dedicated to the proclaimed "party hero," other sites offering to slap some sense into the kid and Facebook groups dedicated to either loving or hating him) I commend his refusal to take off his sunglasses, as gaudy as they were. Why should he have to take them off and submit to the demands of this television reporter when the only responsibility she has is to get the story--not pass judgment? Viewers can form their own opinions about the shirtless, nipple-pierced teenager with the tacky sunglasses. He clearly didn't make a good representation of himself but I guess that's his prerogative and it's clear to viewers who don't need the reporter's commentary.
I find it discouraging to see this type of journalism being practiced. Maybe some see this as me making a mountain out of a molehill but it's the bigger picture I'm looking at. Worthington's interview may be a drop in the bucket to all the stories out there, but I see the interjection of opinion to be a bad habit that broadcast journalism has gotten itself into.