Reporting John Montone
By John Montone, 1010 WINS
If you’re one of the millions of listeners who wakes up each morning to 1010 WINS, you’re likely familiar with the voice, and tone, of the station’s intrepid reporter John Montone.
Best known for his no holds barred, man on the street reporting, Montone has been getting in the faces — and ears — of New Yorkers for what seems like an eternity.
Montone is adding to his repertoire by bringing his unique reporting style to print.
So please take a look and listen to Radio Free Montone — a weekly blog where Montone takes you behind the scenes of news radio in New York City, and gives his observations on reporting in the greatest city in the world.
NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- On any given morning, the floor of my car may look like a landfill.
“Damn it, John.” I often curse at myself while crumbling sheets of note paper on which I have written a news story. The cursing and crumbling are venting mechanisms for the frustration I feel when I can’t write it right — when the words don’t flow. When the sentences are cumbersome. When nothing about my copy will catch the audience’s attention.
As Cosmo Kramer said to the Soup Nazi, “You suffer for your soup.” Well, I suffer for my stories. So much so I have slammed the steering wheel while driving home upon hearing a taped version of a story which could have been told much better.
And so it confounds me to hear trite phrases or hyperbolic headlines in news stories. The other day an online headline read, “Tom Hanks Reveals Startling Health News.” He’s dying, I thought. Oh, no not Tom Hanks! I love him.
Turns out Hanks had been diagnosed with Type-2 diabetes. That’s startling? Not to make light of diabetes, but why is it startling? Some synonyms for startling are: astounding, dumbfounding, jaw-dropping and shocking.
Was anyone astounded or dumbfounded to learn that Hanks has a disease which affects more than 25 million Americans and which can be kept under control with proper care and diet? Did anyone’s jaw drop?
And shouldn’t we reserve the word shocking for some truly horrible act of violence or depravity? I refuse to use “shocking” in a story preferring to describe the atrocity to the audience and let them decide.
I did break this pledge once when several dogs received jolts of electricity as they stepped on sidewalk grates in Brooklyn. That was a “shocking” tale. How about the word “brutal” used to describe a rape. Is that word really necessary?
Can a woman be tenderly raped? And then there is entirely predictable, “It can’t be. He’s the nicest guy,” characterization. We generally hear it when a reporter approaches the neighbor of some truly despicable person. The reporter will often say, “The news of Mr. Momo’s arrest on kiddie porn charges comes as a total shock to Doris who lives down the block.”
And then there’s Doris who says into the waiting microphone, “Mr. Momo is the nicest, sweetest, best, kindest, happy-go-lucky, family-dog-child loving man. I’m shocked.”
When Gambino crime boss John Gotti died in a federal prison, reporters flocked to his Ozone Park, Queens home where neighbors talked of what a fine fellow he was — a regular guy who mowed his own lawn, waved to people on his way out the driveway and paid for the annual summer block party.
Good guy. Real gentleman. So generous. OK so he whacked a bunch of men, hijacked trucks, sold narcotics and evaded taxes on his ill-gotten gains. But there’s our reporter on the scene, eyes trained on the camera nodding his head and saying without a hint of irony, “The men and women on this block will remember John Gotti, the husband and father and neighbor as such a nice guy. Back to you in the studio, Bob and Betty.”
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