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CNN time zone story leaves viewers in the dark

Sandy Higgs's Column

Published time: December 14, 2010 14:02

Putting together a live 24-hour news channel is not an easy task. At least, that’s what my colleagues from the on-air side of RT tell me. I assume it can be easy to confuse footage of certain things from foreign countries, for example. Especially ones that are largely unknown to Western eyes.

Could it be forgivable then, to show footage of the Moscow Kremlin while speaking of the Far East?

That’s what happened on CNN last weekend. Of course, there were a total of TWO whole protests in the one (rather large) country on the same day. The first, as accurately reported on the CNN website citing RIA Novosti, was in the city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Kamchatka Region. 3,000 people gathered to protest the amortization of time zones earlier in the year, which brought the region back to eight hours ahead of Moscow instead of the previous nine. It also means that night falls around midday heading towards the winter solstice.

The Kamchatkans could, of course, bask in the glow from the nearby volcanoes, but a protest over having your very few daylight hours shifted to before you get up in the morning – purely for administrative reasons – doesn’t seem too unreasonable. It’s also a relatively newfound freedom for Russians, one not afforded to their southern neighbors in China, who only have one time zone for the entire country.

There were no reports of violence in the Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky protest. Just 3,000 people exercising their democratic rights.

Then there were the Moscow protests. These have been covered extensively by many news outlets, RT included, so I won’t revisit the details. Credit to the CNN website again, getting the story rather accurately rendered from the news wires. CNN’s on-air team clearly got mixed signals, however.

I’ve seen two versions of this footage with two different newsreaders, so I don’t believe it has been doctored. In case you can’t see it, the clip shows a CNN newsreader reporting on the time zone protests, but the vision clearly shows the Moscow riots. Same day, some 11,000km apart.

Now, here’s a little sketch I’ve put together to illustrate what I think happened in the CNN newsroom on Saturday evening.

Jenna the Intern: Like, so there are like protests in Russia! Like look at this footage coming in from Moscow bureau.

Bob the jaded Director: (alt/tabs off Facebook to CNN site) Yeah, looks like something to do with time zones. Wow! They sure get serious about living in the dark ages over there (laughs at own joke). I’ll send you the link. Write it up and we’ll run it.

Jenna: Like, kewl!

­I’m not sure if Jenna works there anymore, but Bob probably still does.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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