Faked footage and TV news

arizona_burningDecember 7th is not too far away, someone somewhere is going to do a story on a WWII vet and its time for my sometimes annual cautionary reminder about the use of faked footage in TV news of an event that took place many decades ago.

The footage of the attack on Pearl Harbor that some stations appear to use was shot in a pool with wooden model ships on a Hollywood back lot for John Ford’s propaganda film “December 7th” that was produced for the US Navy. If you have a Netflix subscription, rent “Shooting War: World War II Combat Cameramen.” There is behind the scenes footage of Ford’s film and how the burning ships were shot in it.

The real footage, there is only 850 feet of it that was shot by Fox Movietone News cameraman Al Brick. Ford’s Hollywood recreation is in the public domain…the real Movietone footage is not (the copyright on it is held by the University of South Carolina).

If your station can’t or won’t swing licensing the real footage and you use Ford’s dramatization instead, do the right thing for your viewers and your profession and properly label it as a re-creation.