As almost everyone in Philadelphia knows, a resident Bonnie and Clyde duo recently got caught for scamming thousands of dollars from neighbors, friends and colleagues – not to mention people they didn’t even know.
As the story unfolded, respected local and national media outlets seemed to succumb to a reporting style resembling tabloid journalism. Racy photos of Bonnie (a.k.a. Jocelyn Kirsch, 22) were plastered on homepages, TV screens and newspapers. The news hook of many stories centered on how her father bought her implants or sent her on exotic vacations. In a sense, she became a celebrity – even more so than her partner-in-crime, Ed Anderton. Young, flashy, attractive, crafty, manipulative, deceitful, well-traveled, lavish … Philadelphia’s little Bonnie has become an icon. And, I say, we have the media to thank for it. Only briefly did area coverage hit on the nuts and bolts of the crimes and the victims. But once that was out of the way … on to the sexy photos of Jocelyn and the $1,500 handbags!
I know these are all parts of the story, but in the big picture, they are really just shock value details. In order for the media to maintain its integrity – a characteristic that sets it apart from, oh, say the National Enquirer – it needs to stay focused on the core of the story: THE FACT THAT INNUMERABLE PEOPLE WERE ROBBED BLIND – not how many risqué photos they can dig up and post.So as the story unfolds, let’s hope our local media outlets can keep that big picture in its sights, and leave some of the big spending out of it.