Journalism

Breaking news? Exclusive? No, just overhype as WXYZ ‘discovers’ Rodriguez

“It’s not news until we report it.”

I’ve said it and heard it lots of times, that newsroom quip when catching up on something reported elsewhere. Usually it refers to a topic that’s a few days old, maybe a tad more dated.

WXYZ in Detroit applies a distinctly different definition.

7 Action News anchor Alicia Smith will introduce you to the Sugar Man, Sixto Rodriguez, Wednesday on 7 Action News This Morning

That broadly used word introduce also is in the station’s online promo7 Action News introduces you to the Sugar Man

But wait, it escalates.

Who is this mysterious musician who was living in the shadows of Motown while his fans thought he was dead?

Who indeed . . . asks nobody, including International Space Station astronauts. Surely Alicia Smith and her producers must know “this mysterious musician” and  Malik Bendjelloul’s acclaimed “Searching For Sugar Man” documentary about him have been in the news. A lot.Rodriguez (Sugar Man)

  • April 22, 2012: First of many Detroit Free Press articles
  • July 24: First of 11 Deadline Detroit articles
  • July 25: Huffington Post joins the coverage, which its Detroit site presents repeatedly
  • Aug. 15: The Detroit News weighs in on a topic it also revisits often
  • Oct. 5: Rodriguez is profiled on 60 Minutes
  • Nov. 23: Film wins Audience Award at Tribeca Film Festival, goosing wide local coverage
  • Dec. 2: Rodriguez performs at sold-out Crofoot in Pontiac
  • Jan. 10, 2013: Film gets best documentary nomination for Academy Award
  • Jan. 25: Rodriguez plays on opening night of Ann Arbor Folk Festival

WXYZ’s gee-whiz phrasing triggers merciless sarcasm online, predictably.

“Lucky that 7 Action News is here to ‘introduce’ us,” Ashley Catherine Woods, editor of HufPost Detroit,  posts on her personal Facebook page.”Tough work there, getting through with his publicity people and all.”

Ankur Dholakia, a multimedia producer at The Detroit News,  expresses surprise that Channel 7 is “a little late to the party. Usually TV stations open up the newspapers to figure out what stories to cover.”

“Thank God for 7 Action News. Keeping us in the know,” posts Michelle Busuito.

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