In Defense of Television Journalism

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During the past three classes of Dr. Jerz's newswriting (EL227) class, it seems we have been bashing television journalism to such a degree that we might as well categorize it as tabloid journalism.  I would like to take this opportunity to defend television journalism by pointing out some flaws in the logic of an ex-anchor for some unnmaed television station. 

This blog is mainly in response to an assigned reading, "TV Stations Are Completely Rating Driven--and Driven By Consultants," by Greg Byron. 

1.  Where is Greg Byron's proof that these things are going on?  True, they may have happened in the news station he previously worked for, but how can he possibly say it happens everywhere when he has no research?

2.  "It might be very interesting to find out if widespread fears in the nation about crime are fanned by TV people who deliberately tug viewer emotions night after night" (3).  This quote follows criticism that claims news stations amp up viewer emotions by making viewers think that the crime being shown on television could happen in their neighborhood.  Byron thinks that the reason elderly people are always so frightened about crime because of the news.  I don't know the statistics on that, but neither does he. 

What I can say in defense of news stations comes from personal experience.  Friday (8-28-09) I moved from my apartment on the ground level to the thrid floor.  The reason?  I could never feel comfortable being left alone in the quasi-subteranean apartment next to a cemetary where the windows could not be viewed from the street.  Was the news to blame for my "irrational" fear of a break-in?  No.  Were the criminals that have plagued my neighborhood recently the ones to blame for this fear? Yes.  The news only made me aware that these crimes were happening so I could be more vigilant. 

"What crimes?" you may ask.  How about the two teenagers who stole a car in Mount Pleasant (where I used to live) and drove all the way to Greensburg only to be arrested by police (following a minor accident) approximately 100 feet from my apartment.  What about the Super 8 that was robbed at needle-point by a man claiming it contained the HIV virus.  Not only is that right across the highway from where I live, but I was planning to go apply there this summer.  I could have been working there that day.  Not only that, but the hotel next door (Four Points by Sheraton) is where I formerly worked.  Issac's Ale House and the Sunoco (in Youngwood) were both robbed.  Isn't that a little to close for comfort?  And within the past week or two, a man was arrested following a high speed car chase.  He was armed and believed to be dangerous.  Where did this chase begin?  In the parking lot of a business where my live-in boyfriend just stopped working.  This building is right across the road from wh "It might be very interesting to find out if widespread fears in the nation about crime are fanned by TV people who deliberately tug viewer emotions night after night" (3).  This quote follows criticism that claims news stations amp up viewer emotions by making viewers think that the crime being shown on television could happen in their neighborhood.  Byron thinks that the reason elderly people are always so frightened about crime because of the news.  I don't know the statistics on that, but neither does he.   

SO.  If anyone wants to say the news causes this fear, they can come talk to me.  I'm glad I knew this kind of crime was happening so I could move to a safer place.

3. "These consultants were not paid to recommend serious journalism.  They were paid to get viewers" (1).  Fundamentally, Byron's statement is true.  The purpose of hiring a consultant would be to find ways to get more viewers.  However, Byron tries to make the point that the only reason news stations broadcast is for the purpose of getting viewers.  Quite obviously this logic is flawed.  A person does not get up and just start singing and do it every day because they want an audience.  They get up and sing because they want to sing.  If an audience follows, then they know they have done well, and vice versa. 

The same goes for a news station.  Producers are not going to all of a sudden one day decide to start making a news program just because they want people to watch something they made.  They are going to make a news program because they want to tell the news.  Of course they want to keep viewers interest, and that is where the consultant comes in.  Honestly.  What is so wrong with making the news more appealing?  What's so wrong with a news station wanting "anchors which are familiar, friendly, attractive," (1).  Quite frankly, I don't want to watch Gilbert Godfrey or Carrot Top giving me the news.  They'd drive me nuts. 

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