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Z on TV Critic David Zurawik writes about the business and culture of TV
On Freddie Gray coverage, don't blame the messenger

The national media spotlight has shone more brightly on Baltimore this past week than at any point during my 25 years of writing about media at The Baltimore Sun.

To some local officials, it must feel like a national media sun lamp that is starting to burn.

And they have pushed back, criticizing and even blaming the media for some of the ugliness that was captured by network and cable cameras.

Sensing an outlet for their general enmity toward the press, some audience members have also jumped in, tweeting or posting on Facebook about how awful they think CNN's Don Lemon or Fox News' Geraldo Rivera is. If you're from Baltimore, it's us (locals) against them (national media), and it just feels good after drowning in a week of profoundly disturbing hometown images to blast away on social media.

But if we are going to review media performance, let's do it fairly and honestly, and not through a haze of ideology, boosterism or political misdirection.

Not for one second, for example, should we...

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Links between TV reporter, prosecutor's office are Ethics 101 example

The Fraternal Order of Police leveled serious conflict-of-interest charges Friday against the Baltimore state's attorney's office — and the local media.

Gene Ryan, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3, wrote in a letter to State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby that he has "very deep concerns about the many conflicts of interest" involving her office prosecuting six officers for the death of Freddie Gray. He asked her to appoint a special prosecutor.

The FOP's issues with her marriage to a City Council member or the campaign contributions she received from William H. "Billy" Murphy Jr., a Gray family attorney, are not my concern.

But, as media critic, the allegation that the "lead prosecutor's connections with members of the local media" constitute a conflict of interest demands comment. He follows that charge by saying, "Based on several nationally televised interviews, these reporters are likely to be witnesses in any potential litigation regarding this incident."

The FOP declined...

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FOP claims conflicts of interest in Freddie Gray coverage

In alleging Friday that Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby should appoint a special prosecutor because of “conflicts of interest” in her office, the Fraternal Order of Police cast aspersions on the entire press corps covering the Freddie Gray case.

Among other charges involving campaign contributions and Mosby’s marriage to City Council member Nick Mosby, the FOP said in a letter, “These conflicts … include the lead prosecutor’s connections with members of the local media. Based on several nationally televised interviews, these reporters are likely to be witnesses in any potential litigation regarding this incident.”

The FOP Friday did not respond to requests from The Sun for specifics and clarification on which “members of the local media” it was referencing.

Janice Bledsoe is the deputy state's attorney who led the Freddie Gray investigation.

Jayne Miller, investigative reporter for WBAL-TV, confirmed to a Sun reporter Friday that she is in a relationship with Bledsoe.

When contacted...

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Marilyn Mosby shows how you use TV to inform

What an impressive TV press conference by State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby.

Memo to all the politicians chasing camera time who think they understand media: That's the way you use television to inform.

Two minutes into her press conference, you knew that this official had done her homework and wasn't speaking blah-blah-blah, platitude-sloppy, media-bromide talk like so many elected and appointed officials here have been doing this week.

She talked with the kind of force and precision a legal education is supposed to impart. But it was so unlike the ideologically charged, purely speculative, sometimes foolish talk I heard from so many lawyers on cable TV and the streets of Baltimore this week.

Mosby projected focus, strength, determination, righteousness and resolve. I'm not saying she is all of those things -- I have no way of knowing.

But that's what came through on the tube. And all of those telegenic attributes enhanced the power of the findings she announced, charging six police officers...

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Geraldo Rivera comes under verbal fire in Baltimore on Freddie Gray story

Fox News correspondent Geraldo Rivera was not exactly feeling the love when he came to Baltimore this week to cover the aftermath of the death of Freddie Gray.

Check out this video of Geraldo's encounter with one local viewer whose issues with the media extend beyond Rivera.

Rivera's reporting from Baltimore was shown on "Hannity," the prime-time show hosted by Sean Hannity, Tuesday night.





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Watching Orioles play in empty park not that strange - really

Watching Major League Baseball on TV is one of my greatest pleasures. It's like meditation or that first glass of wine. I have been doing it several nights a week for decades.

That's why I thought watching the Orioles play the Chicago White Sox in an empty Camden Yards was going to be super strange today.

Only it wasn't.

Having worked at newspapers in Detroit and Dallas when the Tigers and Rangers were really bad, I have spent plenty of hours in front of the screen watching non-contending teams play meaningless games in September before near-empty stadiums.

That's what it mainly felt like watching today, except that the Orioles played with energy and focus unlike those losing teams populated by players just waiting to empty out their lockers and head home for the off-season.

The reason for the empty stadium is the civic unrest that has plagued Baltimore since Saturday night when what had been peaceful protests in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray turned violent. Police cars were stomped...

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