NBC wrongly highlights death of Bode’s brother

Analicia Honkanen

As a photojournalist, I strive to create photos that dive straight into the depths of a story or event as I’m sure a normal journalist would as well. Although the heart of journalism is to dig into topics and news that others would not ever dig into, there is a limit to the search for information as well as reporting the right information.

Analicia Honkanen
Analicia Honkanen

This past weekend, Bode Miller of the United States competed in the Super G event for the Winter Olympics. Before his run even started, there was a segment about his brother’s sudden death and how it might have affected his focus and concentration on the ski hill.

He stated that, if anything, it has helped him become stronger, more dedicated to his sport, and to push himself harder. I watched as he raced to the bottom of the course, thinking about how hard it must be to keep personal life and professional athletics apart, especially when it is the death of a close family member.

After Miller’s run, Christin Cooper, a reporter from NBC, interviewed Bode about his skiing and its relation to the death of his brother.

She asked him emotional questions including how Miller had been “showing so much emotion down here [at the bottom of the run], what’s going through your mind?” and “how much does it mean to you to come up with a great performance for him [Miller’s brother]?”

At this point, it was clear that Miller had difficulty containing his emotions. He even had tears running down his face. Finally, Cooper asked Miller whom he was talking to when he was “looking up at the sky at the start,” and that’s when he fell apart and was no longer able to finish the interview.

This interview did several things I am not a fan of. First, it is a classic example of the media trying to exploit the famous. Cooper was trying to break Miller down in order to get a shot of him crying. This is what gets attention: it makes headlines and gets viewers.

Also, it wasn’t a live broadcast—NBC’s producers could have easily taken the shot out if they wanted to. Instead, they left the segment, surrounding their coverage on Miller’s life and the emotional drama behind his ski season and his personal life.

They also played up an emotional narrative to try to make the Winter Olympics a little less dry to others who don’t usually watch these winter sports.

As a ski racer myself, I believe this is unacceptable.

If I am competing at a ski race, I would not want to be questioned about the status of my emotional state and my personal life outside of ski racing as it does not apply to the situation.

What about the fact that it was Miller’s last time racing in the Winter Games, or the fact he is the oldest alpine skier to win a medal? It would have been more interesting if Cooper asked positive questions about all the hard work that he has put in this season.

After the Miller interview, it seemed as if  teammate Andrew Weibrecht’s  silver medal was forgotten. Cooper’s interview turned Miller’s situation into a true cliché for American drama.

The media continues to skew our interpretations of the world.

When I want to watch the alpine events in the Winter Olympics, I want to watch a great performance. This was just another example of the media reporting a dramatic story about a celebrity’s personal life.