Sign The Guestbook
View The Guestbook
Archived Guestbook
Submit An Article
Staff List
Privacy Policy


Weekly Features
The X Files
Xavier Hermosillo is the President of, a national Crisis Communications, Marketing, and Management firm he founded 23 years ago. He is a former political chief of staff, an award-winning reporter and photographer, and a former radio talk show host and TV commentator in Los Angeles. He has co-founded two publicly-traded companies where he served as a member of the Board of Directors and as the Senior Vice President of Investor Relations and Corporate Communications. He has also served as a Hearing Examiner for the Los Angeles Police Commission on police officer discipline cases, and holds degrees in Administration of Justice and Business and Communications. He can be reached at

July 11, 2005

First we had 9/11 in New York, and now with the London bombings we have
7/7, news media code for July7th, the day of the bomb attack on the
subway system and a double-decker bus.

Beyond the sadness of the events and my silent prayers for the dead and
injured, what struck me most about this event, as a life-long news
media professional and news watcher, was the way the Brits covered this
tragedy. In four simple words, ?They whipped our ass.? Our U.S. media
ass. They were absolute pros.

Not once during the hours and hours of coverage, on BBC America, as
well as other channels where British reporters were the key story
tellers, did I hear the word ?exclusive? as in, ?we have an EXCLUSIVE
interview with?..? or ?here with EXCLUSIVE footage?..?. Not once did I
hear some anchor boast, ?In a story you will only see right here on
Channel Blah Blah Blah ?.?

What I did not see, and did NOT miss, was the truly American media game
of ?It?s MY story!? The British media, thankfully, was not trying to
outdo itself, as we often see done here. Instead, the Brits focused on
the tragedy itself, the wounded, the shocked, the survivors, and showed
an exceptional level of professionalism like we used to see often,
years ago, in the U.S. on major and tragic stories.

When it became apparent that the first photos from the subway were
taken by people using their cell phone cameras, we were shown the
photos. PERIOD!! A factual report on the story, nothing else, nothing
fancy or outlandish. The BBC didn?t go out in search of cell phone
experts to deluge us with useless information on the spread of
technology into unusual and historic situations like the subway
explosions, and no prognostications that ?this is the wave of the
future?. The Brits just accepted it, reported it, and remained focused
on the tragedy. The stiff upper lip never looked better.

Past experience on how we handle events in the U.S. leads me to imagine
how we have made a big deal of video footage shot by an amateur of a
fire, a shooting, a police beating, or a plane crash. We end up
hearing the entire life history of the video camera owner, as if we
give a damn and it mattered in the overall scheme of things. Pay the
man, or woman, for their film and let?s move on.

It wasn?t very long after the bombing that CNN had Dr. Sanjay Gupta,
their resident doctor/reporter, evaluating the types of injuries
victims may have suffered in the bomb attacks. ?Injuries from flying
debris? we were told were to be expected. Duh! ?Possibly severe
concussions from the force of the blast? the doctor told us was another
possibility. Darn, I never would have thought about that.

Are we so brain dead in America that we have to reply on a media doctor
to tell us what happens when a bomb goes ?BOOM?? Did CNN seriously
think we were incapable of imagining or conceiving the terrible things
that happen to people when bombs explode in close proximity? Shame on
them if they did, and shame on you if you fell for it.

Another area in which the Brits and their media excelled was that the
reporters didn?t interfere with the work of rescue crews, police or
medical personnel demanding to know, American style, ?what do we have
here? or ?what are the extent of the patient?s injuries??

Instead, the UK media types waited patiently for the timely briefing
with the police and fire commanders and the UK terrorism guru who were
both the right people to answer questions and very informed, direct,
and informative. Reporters politely identified themselves before they
asked a question and there was no rude yelling from reporters. No one
tried to out-yell or out-scoop the other reporters. Civility

No one demanded to know the identity of the victims immediately. The
British media, though shocked and possibly as emotionally shaken as the
rest of the English populace, never lost its professionalism and it
handled a very difficult and delicate state of affairs with aplomb.

When one American reporter began pressing the issue of whether all the
fatalities had been accounted for in the tunnel blast, the police
commander very calmly and succinctly told him that there were still
bodies in the ?carriages? (the train cars) and that they would be
removed when it was safe to enter the tunnel. He also assured the
media that anyone found alive in the tunnels had been removed. The
British media accepted it and respected the sensitivity of the

I have been a reporter/writer/editor/commentator/talk show host for
many, many years, and I can be as aggressive as they come. But even I
know that there is a fine line between assertiveness and aggressiveness
that a professional should never cross. It is a lot like the fine line
between humor and stupidity. No reporter?s career is ever enhanced by
showing the ability to be a pushy, rude, careless, and insensitive ass.

British reporters did the obligatory ?man on the street? interviews and
spoke with the blood-splattered and bandage-covered victims, letting
the shaken and woozy survivors tell their stories. I did not see
English reporters trying to impress their news directors or the
interviewees by serving up complicated, truncated questions designed to
show off the reporter?s presumed intelligence.

Instead, we got a lot of natural sound, slow and wide pans of the
damaged and the undamaged, victims, onlookers, the authorities. We SAW
the story unfolding ourselves without the need for a blow-by-blow
description from some voice jockey behind a desk.

I realize all of this may come as a shock or an unwelcome commentary to
news directors, assignment editors, producers, photographers and
reporters in the good old USA. But you need to understand that the
reason television news viewership is dropping is because people are
sick and tired of too damned much contrived BREAKING NEWS like normal
traffic jams, ?storm watch? every time it rains, street corner crashes,
car chases, and the like.

The average person seeking real news is already wise to the fact that
if they read the morning newspaper, the local television stations
picked the stories to cover from the newspaper and by 10 or 11 p.m.,
it?s already old news.

The London train bombings, on the other hand, were REAL breaking news
when we awoke and we were riveted to the televisions and radios because
we knew it was NOT contrived, and it was not a ?ratings sweeps?
special. It was horrible, it was sad, but it was real, and for those
of us who were able to compare the British press? outstanding coverage
versus the usual U.S. molasses, it was an important and enjoyable way
to watch a very difficult event.

We should all learn from this experience. It will make us ALL much
better servants to our audiences.