August 2009 Archives
I had a mixed reaction after reading the several pieces about TV News from Byron. Although I did appreciate his inside view on TV News, I feel that he himself was biased and had a strong desire to rip into TV News. Even though I do believe that TV News probably does a lot of what he is claiming, I still think his information would be better received if he dropped some of the sarcasm and didn't seem so hateful especially towards the last few topics. I understand he had a strong point to make, but sometimes even the most informed voices on issues are lost because they are overcome with too much passion leading their information to look a little unbelievable. Also, for as much as he complained about the writers and editors for the news stations, I think he needs to get an editor for himself because his writing was filled with many mispelled words and grammatical errors.
After reading his wedsites, I compared some of the characterisitics Byron listed of news stations to some of the news stations I actually watch. After watching WTAE for the first time the other night, I could definately see some of the characteristics show up, such as the time dedicated to the weather and sports. Especially after our discussion, I could see how the wording of the news was changed to make it appear more recent. When I compared some of his claims to the local news I watch at home in Johnstown, I think the smaller station we have there does a little bit of a better job of getting a little more information about businesses, education, etc. Although it still has its own faithfully dedicated weather report and endless reports on high school sports, the station seems to go a little deeper into problems in schools and even issues at businesses such as the hospital and local dealerships. I'm sure it can go more in depth and that the facts still get twisted from time to time, but for a smaller news station as compared to WTAE, I think it gave the viewers more news that was more relevent to the community.
Back to class where you can find links to Byron's articles.
In the Something is Happening in Haiti video, I think we all observed a decent (even though it may be slightly exaggerated example) of how sometimes TV news reporters and anchors jump to conclusions about what's happening in a news story because they are trying to get their station's the biggest (and hopefully most accurate) headline as quickly as possible. However, it seems that when this happens, the news gets twisted because of too many assumptions and possibly a breaking headline is accidently made out of a story that isn't even a story thats newsworthy at all (for example, was gathering a picnic or because of an important election).
I think another key point in this video was how a video clip can not only be lacking quality but also could lead to misinterpretations because of its lack of quality. The reporter didn't have the equipment needed to get a quality shot of the action going on. His blurry camera phone images forced him and the anchor to try to guess quickly what was going on in the crowd. This could cause another incorrect conclusion to be broadcasted. Also, even if the image hadn't been blurry, I think this example can help to remind us all that sometimes videos and pictures taken not only by TV news but also by newspaper reporters can sometimes be used to send the audience a different message than what was actually going on in the video/picture. Sometimes reporters twist these images even if they know the truth to make the story more dramatic or a better seller for their show/paper.
I surprised myself by finding out I have mixed feelings on this topic. When first studying the comic (which I thought was great), I first felt completely one-sided: I believed that the hours of reporting dedicated to detailing the life and death of someone famous who has recently died was pointless. Whether the famous person was alive or dead, my life would more than likely go on the same. Also, as mentioned in Derek's blog, many "famous" people don't become extremely popular until their death is a headline. However, after I read Megan's blog, who took a different approach to the comic, I can't say that I'm completely one sided anymore.
Although I do find the constant coverage on Michael Jackson's death annoying and irrelevent, I do realize that the news has to coverage what is going on with it because there is some level of public interest. The same with Ted Kennedy's death. Although my life will continue on the same with the passing of both of these two, it was still necessary for the public to receive some sort of coverage on their lives and deaths because each did have some sort of influence on the society we are living in (even though they may not have affected me directly). Even though this type of news may not be as important as some of the other headlines, it shouldn't be ignored because the public should be informed when someone influential on our society passes away.
After watching WTAE news last night, I was surprised at the amount of time that was actually spent on the news. About 22 minutes of the program was dedicated to broadcasting, more than what I had thought would be. The other eight minutes were dedicated mainly to commercials and only a few seconds of small talk between anchors. I had expected more time to be dedicated to small talk, but the program's time (other than commercials) really seemed focused on the actual news stories and the anchors kept the program moving quickly.
Of the 15-20 news stories that were covered, all were produced by the station except three. The three that were from other sources included the coverage on Ted Kennedy's death, the reappearance of a missing girl after 18 years, and Michael Vick's return game to the NFL. This was also surprising to me because I expected to see more national news on the show with clips that weren't originally produced by their own reporters. However, there was a lot more state and local news announced that was done entirely by the station.
In many of clips done by the station, there were several interviews. Most were very informational and well done, however there was one or two that seemed a little off target. In the case of the Carnegie Mellon suicide, the one interview was of a student who was trying to explain his surprise for the suicide occurring at the beginning of the semester. While he was trying to explain, he said something about how he could maybe understand later in the semester but not early on. He then tried to rephrase the statement, realizing how ridiculous it had sounded. For how serious the topic was, his original sentence made me and some others laugh out loud. I then thought those few seconds of the interview may have been inappropriate to show because not only would they have been embarrassing to the student who was getting interviewed, but it was also slightly inappropriate for the topic that was being discussed.
I noticed a good chunk of the news time was dedicated to Steeler news. The sports section was almost completely overtaken by it, leaving the Pirates and Pitt Panthers in the shadows. I also noticed that a decent amount of time was dedicated to weather as well as to showing highlights of what was about to be discussed next.
When looking back over the list of news stories, another observation I made was that most of it was negative news. At least in some of the negative issues, positive points were slightly touched upon, such as the girl who had been kidnapped and raped was finally returned to her family and the tractor trailer that overturned hadn't harmed anyone.
Overall, I thought the WTAE news did a good job of broadcasting and using their time. The commercials are unavoidable for any program, however small talk and other distractions are which the program kept to a minimum.
When comparing the job description for the WTAE reporter to the characteristics of a journalist, I noticed how much more intensity was put into the WTAE description. This description definitely sounded more demanding and yet more glamorous at the same time. It also seemed to highlight the importance of getting the stories out to the audience more. The journalist's characteristics seemed more toned down and more about the journalist's interests rather than the employer's. It also had more standards on how to get the story while being respectful of the people the story may affect. Both descriptions emphasized that the person must have an "alert and ordered mind" (News Manual). I think this highlights how important it is to get the story as fast as possible.
I noticed in the "Cap on Bonuses Inflates PNC Pay" that some of the sources for the quotations were a little vague. The reporter referred to some of his sources as just "analysts" instead of being more specific. The article was packed full of statisitics, and some of them just seemed to be floating on their own instead of tied down to a source. Although I'm sure to readers that "analysts" would be a convincing enough source while reading, I still found it interesting in comparison to the Planes article which seemed to have every statistic linked to a named source. After reading the two back to back, it just seemed like the Planes statisitics were more reliable because it seemed like a lot of information about the source was presented, where as the PNC reporter didn't refer to or describe the sources in as much detail.
"To strengthen structure, writers take advantage of chronology and other narrative opportunities; reward the reader with bright points throughout the story; and make sure the reader arrives at a natural ending rather than a contrived one" (Clark and Scanlan 294).
In "Expected Loss of Profits Rankles Business Owners", although there was a lot of negativity expressed from business owners towards the G-20 summit being hosted in Pittsburgh, the reporter did allow some room for some notable bright spots for the reader. Postive quotes and information was gained from Holly Geitner who didn't nessarily dismiss the fact that business owners may lose profit, but suggested some business that may not suffer so much during the two day conference. Also, positive quotations were taken from an optometrist's office worker and from the owner of a pizza restruarant. As a reader, even if it is a fact that the businesses will be suffering because of the summit, had the whole article been completely negative about the issue I would have stopped reading. Even in the beginning of the article the tone of it was leaning towards the over-the-top negative side. However, by counteracting it with some positve quoations helped to "brighten" up the tone. Also, by having quoations from people who had differing opinions of the topic helped to create a wider and more informed perspective of the situation. Once again, had the negativity taken control of the article, the perspective would have been completely one sided, possibly revealing what the reporters own opinions were.
Several of the articles, such as "Cap on Bonuses Inflates PNC Pay" and "CIA Target of Torture Probe" were examples of articles that used "nut graphs" (at least I think they were, let me know if I'm wrong about this). As Clark and Scanlan mention, "If it is not in the first paragraph, it will appear in the 'nut' paragraph near the top of the story. The nut graph explains to readers why they should bother reading the story" (291). What is making me second guess whether these are actual examples of this point is that in the CIA artcile, the main news is written in the first sentence. Also, the paragraph above it is very short and basically repeats what is mentioned in the first sentence. I thought the "nut graph" was supposed to be used when the main news isn't mentioned in the first sentence and/or first paragraph.