Update, 1:31 p.m., Oct. 4, 2016: UMTV Station Manager Oliver Redsten released a statement about the video package, emphasizing the stations’s commitment to journalistic ethics and objective reporting.
“I also want to dispel any notions of bias within UMTV,” the statement continued. “… The hundreds of student journalists who work for UMTV are deeply committed to fairness and impartiality, and demonstrate that on a daily basis with the content that they produce.”
Update, 4:03 p.m., Oct. 1, 2016: This story was updated to clarify how The Miami Hurricane heard of the video package.
University of Miami Television (UMTV) is facing backlash from members of UM College Republicans after posting a video package in the news category about a UM presidential debate watch party. Students say it was edited in a politically biased way and mocked a student who said she may vote for Republican candidate Donald Trump.
The package, categorized as part of “NewsBreak,” was posted on Sept. 27. UMTV’s 90-second news show showed reporter Sophia Espinosa interviewing attendees about their political views. All the interview subjects were supporters of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton except for one, who was not named in the video.
When that student expressed her support of Trump, the video was edited to have a comedic rewind effect. Moments later, the shot is paused and zooms in on Espinosa’s face. Then a cloud-shaped speech bubble appears next to her face and the text, “Oh, that makes sense.”
Oliver Redsten, UMTV station manager, expressed regret over the video being uploaded online and said that he and his producers should have been more thorough in their initial inspection. He said when he first saw the video, he only watched the first minute and did not see the comic effects, otherwise it would never have been uploaded.
“We have since deleted it and I was just frustrated that I didn’t catch it,” Redsten said. “This somehow slipped through the cracks. Somehow it got on the air and it should never have gotten that far.”
Sophomore Portia Baudisch, one of NewsBreak’s two executive producers, said she did not pick up on any bias when she approved the video for posting. Baudisch said the reporter was not mocking the interview subject’s political views, but was instead criticizing the way she expressed her opinion. She did not comment on the rewind effect.
Redsten was informed of the video on Thursday. It was shortly taken down from Vimeo, the video platform where UMTV uploads its stories, and from the official site, umtv.miami.edu.
According to him, Espinosa – who put in the comic effect – is a freshman and Redsten has sent a “strongly-worded email her way” to ensure it never happens again.
UM College Republicans President Chris Dalton said the video was offensive and unprofessional. Dalton, who is also business manager for The Miami Hurricane, brought the video to the attention of the newsroom.
“Sad to see that the media bias has found its way to the University of Miami campus,” he said in a statement.
One of the channels, NewsVision, planned to host Dalton and the UM Democrat president, and despite the incident, Redsten said Dalton would still appear on the show.
“It’s embarrassing and he’s upset. We just have to make sure this never happens again,” Redsten said. “The video is gone now and will never be up on the website again. We have to remind ourselves on our role as journalists.”
Edward Julbe, a lecturer and faculty advisor to UMTV’s SportsDesk, said he didn’t watch the video but from what he heard, he said that humor should not have been used in this particular piece.
“If this was Off The Wire you could probably get away with it, as it’s funny, but not in a news setting,” Julbe said.
Julbe stressed that in journalism, facts must be presented without any form of bias.
“It’s more about journalistic integrity and I think honestly, it was an unintentional mistake,” he said. “This was an innocent mistake and an attempt at humor in a type of production where humor isn’t part of what you do in a news-style program. It is more about journalism and representing the information in a straightforward way and letting the audience decide how they should feel about it.”
Breana Ross, a member of NewsBreak who was at the watch party but did not shoot the video, said that the comedic effect was a mistake and said the editing style was a play off what the show did a week ago when covering the unveiling of the new football jerseys.
“We tried something new last week on the jersey reveal and did some fun things like zooming in, rewinds and that is where the style came from,” Ross said. “It’s not for a news piece though. It was a mistake and we are students. We just have to learn from it.”
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.
Correction, Oct. 1, 2016: This story previously misspelled the UMTV reporter’s last name. Her last name is Espinosa, not Espinoza.