Victor Fiorillo at Philly Mag tweeted this over the weekend:

I missed the original story, which went up on Thursday and was titled If It Bleeds It Leads” Is Alive and Well at Fox 29There was then a Friday follow up, titled Fox 29’s Steve Keeley Under Fire From Reporters and Councilperson for Crime Coverage.

Victor’s Thursday story is more or less wrapped around a Lenfest Institute report revealing that FOX 29 does more crime coverage than any other outlet in Philadelphia. In the Friday story, he adds in some reaction from two black women who work in local media, sharing this Facebook post from WHYY’s Cherri Gregg:

“I rarely speak badly of news outlets — BUT Steve Keeley FOX 29’s coverage of crime — definitely makes me cringe. Crime coverage can be very harmful and scares people.

I have been working with my fellow Board Members at Law & Justice Journalism Project to train journalists to do better. Our crime coverage must be community centered — otherwise it can be harmful, sensationalized and disproportionate to what is really happening. AND who gets harmed?? Black and brown people… Black communities and Black men.”

It’s funny because we’ve done the Keeley joke before. FOX gave him a one-night reprieve from the murder beat to let him go down to Broad Street after the Eagles won the NFC Championship Game. But otherwise it seems like he’s doing nothing but crime at FOX, and to be honest, I don’t watch a lot of morning news these days, but his Twitter feed is like a rolling blog of mug shots and police press releases:

There was a significant response on social to Fiorillo’s tweet and the Friday Philly Mag story, mostly people defending Keeley and saying he’s just doing his job. It looks like both tweets got “ratio’d.”

Of course, crime coverage is complicated topic. When I was at Eyewitness News, we could fill up an entire 30-minute newscast (actually 18 minutes with all the commercials, weather, etc) with nothing but shootings, stabbings, and robberies, but was the name of the program Eyewitness News or Eyewitness Shootings, Stabbing, and Robberies? At some point, you gotta decide how much is too much, but when you live in a city where crime has been a big problem lately, and the district attorney is a constant topic of discussion, it can’t be brushed aside, at least in terms of how your newsroom is going to cover it.

The thing about Keeley’s Twitter feed is that it certainly does not discriminate. Just taking a quick glance, the first two mug shots I see are suburban white men, so he’s not just posting about black and brown city communities. He’ll do a post about a North Philly shooting, then immediately follow it up with the latest suburban white pedo teacher, so he’s casting a wide net topically.

In terms of practicality, the police will tell you that publicity helps solve crimes, but there’s always a line to walk when it comes to sensationalism. You don’t want to go overboard. I’d have to watch more of Good Day Philly to get a better idea for how Steve’s stuff comes across on TV, but on Twitter it’s rather straightforward. The only thing I’ve noticed is some editorializing here and there, specifically a tweet from a few months ago about homeless people on a SEPTA platform (I’ll go back and try to find it). It’s not totally pervasive, but you have to be careful when you’re in TV news because one personal opinion is enough to make people think a certain way about your reporting, and if you seem overly doom and gloom-ish, it can give off the wrong impression and rub people the wrong way.

Anyway, interesting topic. Now let’s get it back to the Eagles.