GOTCHA REPORTING

By Caroline Mintz

(Long Island, NY) Gotcha journalism entails the use of interviewing methods designed to encourage people to make statements that may damage their reputation in one regard or another. These journalists often have a hidden agenda that prompts them to want to portray an individual or situation in an unfavorable way, and in some cases, journalists build their entire careers on these dubious tactics.

In the extreme is the case of Sandra Peddie, a controversial reporter for Long Island’s Newsday, who is well-known for ‘gotcha journalism.” In fact, Peddie glorified the method in a televised commercial for the struggling publication by stating that her goal as a reporter is to “make you spit out your coffee.” She goes on to explain the deep satisfaction she feels in the moment she can say “gotcha.”

Also noteworthy is the sexualized manner in which Peddie displays herself in the commercial. Cindy Holliman, a fourth-year journalism student, was shown the Sandra Peddie commercial as part of a focus group. She stated: “We were shown it to determine what the class thought of gotcha reporting as opposed to journalism.  We learned that you’re either a gotcha reporter or a journalist, and you can’t be both,” said Holliman. She added, “In general, the consensus was that she is old-school. She is a sixty year old woman that isn’t embarrassed to use her sexuality in exchange for information. She showed no shame in it.”

Others seem to share that view. Steve Levy wrote in his book Bias in the Media that “Peddie, without question, was the most unprofessional reporter I had ever come across.” He went on to stay that “Peddie went out of her way to build a false narrative.”

America’s True News made several attempts to reach Sandra Peddie for an interview for this article. She refused to comment through Newsday’s legal counsel. Newsday suffered operating losses of $37.7 million in 2014, and many people believe that Peddie’s disingenuous reporting is a factor in the failing paper. “Twenty years ago, you could get away with tabloid journalism, or “gotcha” journalism, but with the advent of the internet and the ease at which people can check facts, it just doesn’t fly anymore,” said Holliman. “I think people know when a story line just doesn’t add up or make sense, and readers tune it out,” she added.

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