September 28, 2003

TV News Bites-HW assignment

Greg Byron's long essay on TV news really made me take a long look at my local news station WTAE-TV Channel 4, and my entire television news experience.

I have watched the station for years, but never really noticed how much "fluff" was included in the broadcast (which isn't much among the bulging advertisements).

I have always enjoyed Sally Wiggin (now very old for an anchorwoman--they keep piling on the make-up because she is actually a good reporter) and her wonderful world of color and crime.

I never realized how numb I had become to the structure of the broadcast.

When I looked back over my viewing experiences, however, I noticed that most of Byron's points are well-established.

They spend time regurgitating other newspaper writers' stories, they create entertaining fluff, they do not report the news when it happens--they simply re-air the old story for the next broadcast.

And then there is the file visuals; I have seen such irresponsible journalism like this in practice. Instead of simply re-shooting a criminal in appeals court, they will use the footage from the first trial; the person may look completely different, but they will use it anyway. If that person escapes prison, the entire viewing area will be looking for a well-dressed man with black hair, a suit, and clean-shaven looks, but when in actuality, he is slumped, bald-headed, and is wearing prison garb. It is like using a toy hammer from childhood to build a house later in life: it does not work, it is not functional for future use.

I, like many viewers, have "stuck" with one channel over the years, proud that I have been a "loyal" viewer; one should not have that outlook, however, the news is there for you, not you for them. Local "hometown" news companies have brainwashed that image that "we are here for you" so, in turn, we should call them with developments, and watch them for the most current news.

Byron's cynical voice made me a bit depressed while reading the essay, but his views are entirely applicable to the situation: TV news reporting, in its genre of communication, is not living up to the changing standards of media; it is failing with unneeded entertainment, belated stories, and fragmentation--among many other downfalls.

Either television reporting will change, or it will die like the railroads.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at September 28, 2003 11:12 PM

Great post on the artificiality of TV news. Poetic, even!

Of course, local news still serves some functions well, doesn't it? The fact is that ALL COMMERCIAL TV is artificial in these same ways; but better to have some news than none, I say!

Posted by: Mike Arnzen at September 29, 2003 9:20 AM
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