What you didn't see...
On March 9th, Ron Schiller, former fundraiser for NPR (and a few days later, his boss, NPR CEO Vivian Schiller) were both screwed by a video produced by James O'Keefe. This was not O'Keefe's first video hit job. He had gone after ACORN during the Obama run for the Presidency, and with great success.
In this case, O'Keefe, posing as a member of the Muslim Brotherhood has lunch with Schiller and dangles a $5 million contribution to NPR. He videotaped the lunch.
The 'hidden camera' videotape was soon all over the web, and shortly thereafter, all over the news. Schiller (the fundraiser) trashed the Tea Party and the GOP.
NPR was revealed as a bastion of leftist, elitist ideas. And all this right when the Congress was voting to cut their funding (which they did a few days later).
Now, it turns out, Schiller was not quite so radical and anti-GOP as the tape had made it seem. The tape was 'judiciously' edited, to say the least.
So here is a good reason to learn video editing!
And to give credit where it is due, the unexpurgated version of the O'Keefe tape was actually posted on Glen Beck's site, The Blaze.
Watching the uncut version you can see that although Ron Schiller does have a bit of a smug attitude, his anti-GOP and anti-Tea Party quotes are totally taken out of context. He quite clearly defends Fox viewers, is proud of his GOP past and the damning 'Tea Party' quote was actually something his GOP friends often remarked.
Well, of course, no one is accusing O'Keefe of being a journalist.
But the greater question is why theoretically serious news organziations from CNN to The New York Times didn't bother to run the unedited version and turn the tables on Mr. O'Keefe - or at least try and present a far more 'fair and balanced' story.
This could never happen in print.
Part of the reason, I think, is the deep respect we still have for video.
We have lived in a world of print for more than 500 years now. It's an old friend. We are used to its ways.
When we go to a supermarket and see a tabloid paper whose headline screams "BAT BOY FOUND ON MARS", we don't really accept this as news. We don't run home and tell our families to get in the cellar, the Martian Bat Boys are coming!"
We have an innate ability to edit on our own.
It comes from lots and lots of exposure to a very wide range topics and truths, half-truths and outright lies. We can tell.
But when it comes to video, we are used to video being so difficult to make and so expensive that it HAS to be true - I saw it with my own eyes.
As the power to make video, and more importantly, to both edit and disseminate it, falls into so many hands, we also have to develop a kind of maturity in watching it.
If something smells fishy, it probably is.
And any time you see a few edit points in a video, you have a right and a responsibility to ask for the uncut raw footage - with running timecode, before you jump to any conclusions.