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Chocolate-Covered Bacon?! Now that's news!

The 6:00 WTAE newscast was notable for how little time was spent on the news. The first six minutes were dedicated to news, then two two-minute commercial breaks alternated with two two-minute news sections, concluding with another six-minute block of newscast. Very little time was devoted to theme music, though a lot of time was spent talking about what they were going to talk about before they talked about it. In such a brief window of time, it seems like this is unnecessary; perhaps this is needed to pad out the program because it is a slow news day. To be fair, the 6:00 broadcast does follow an hourlong block of news, so the program may have been winding down after a longer, more intensely concentrated amount of news has been delivered. Most of the news was local; one story was about an airplane that flew into the White House "no fly" zone and had to land, so that would not have been created by WTAE reporters. They did mention the information for the story about airplane traffic during the G-20 summit was gotten in cooperation with the Tribune Review, so that was not created by the reporters. The rest of the program seemed to have come from the reporters themselves, running the gamut from a breaking story about a death at CMU in which little information was known, to chocolate-covered bacon at the Westmoreland County Fair. Oddly, the story that seemed to take up the most amount of time was the story about the chocolate-covered bacon (and many other obnoxiously fried foods) at the Westmoreland County Fair. Once again, this may have been because all the more significant news stories were covered in more depth in the 5:00 broadcast.
It is interesting to compare the two descriptions of what a journalist does; the News Manual seems to be more ideological and describe journalists as concerned citizens of the world out searching for truth, while the WTAE job description is more practical and focused on being able to get viewers' attention. Nothing in the job description paints the picture of the no-nonsense reporter out to ask the tough questions and get to the heart of things. It sounded more like what you might expect from a description for a magazine writer. The News Manual description is more about the "art" of journalism, while WTAE is more about the "show biz" commercial aspect of things. I think good reporters should probably have the ideals of journalism in their head while still being practical in recognizing the limits of broadcast television, in which getting viewers to sit down and watch is a huge factor.

Comments (2)

Jennifer Prex:

I watched this same broadcast. It was really odd how much time was devoted to the chocolate covered bacon, both during the story and after with the joking around. The other story that seemed to take up a huge chunk of time, more than the rest, was the story on the crumbling houses in the (I'm assuming) abandoned neighborhood. The bigger news stories really didn't take up much time. Maybe they were just looking for filler.

Angela Palumbo:

I was in class for the 6 o'clock news but the 11 o'clock news was surprisingly well...newsy. For the stats you can visit my blog http://blogs.setonhill.edu/AngelaPalumbo/2009/08/i_was_impressed.html. The news did talk about the Westmoreland County Fair but there was unfortunately no mention of bacon covered in chocolate (as if bacon and chocolate aren't fattening enough by themselves). It was really good that you recognized that you watched the news after the news had already been on for an hour. I don't think I would have thought to take that into account when considering why the news at 6 seemed slow.

About the difference in definitions, you are right that one is more idealized and the WTAE version is more realistic. I personally enjoyed the words "creative" in the description. What are they doing, making up the news?

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