Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Shame on Network News Divisions

From last Thursday's Daily Show:

And the interview prompted this New York Times piece, Reporters Say Networks Put Wars on Back Burner.
“If I were to watch the news that you hear here in the United States, I would just blow my brains out because it would drive me nuts,” Ms. Logan said.
(on The Daily Show). Yeah, I feel the same way, and I don't know nearly as much as she does.

The sad facts:
According to data compiled by Andrew Tyndall, a television consultant who monitors the three network evening newscasts, coverage of Iraq has been “massively scaled back this year.” Almost halfway into 2008, the three newscasts have shown 181 weekday minutes of Iraq coverage, compared with 1,157 minutes for all of 2007. The “CBS Evening News” has devoted the fewest minutes to Iraq, 51, versus 55 minutes on ABC’s “World News” and 74 minutes on “NBC Nightly News.” (The average evening newscast is 22 minutes long.)
This abhorrent state of affairs is a direct result of news divisions being viewed improperly as profit centers, rather than a civic duty in exchange for the use of public broadcast bands. I've long bemoaned the obstacle courses and games and bridal contests and network promotions of the morning "news" programs. Without an informed citizenry, democracy breaks. Hence, George Bush's re-election.

The Times finishes with:

“It’s terrible,” Ms. Logan said in the telephone interview. She called it a financial decision. “We can’t afford to maintain operations in Iraq and Afghanistan at the same time,” she said. “It’s so expensive and the security risks are so great that it’s prohibitive.”

Mr. Friedman said coverage of Iraq is enormously expensive, mostly due to the security risks. He said meetings with other television networks about sharing the costs of coverage have faltered for logistical reasons.

Journalists at all three American television networks with evening newscasts expressed worries that their news organizations would withdraw from the Iraqi capital after the November presidential election. They spoke only on the condition of anonymity in order to avoid offending their employers.

The internet may be changing things. Instead of 3 minutes on Obama's speech on race, for example, any one who wishes can watch the whole thing, get the context, on YouTube.

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