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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

What is News? Who Decides?

A couple of weeks ago Alex Trebeck was staying in a San Francisco hotel when he tore his achilles tendon while chasing an alleged burglar down the hall.  It really made me think about useless news stories that we are constantly pummeled with.

Here’s my point. If you are in charge of the content for a 30 minute or 60 minute newscast that means that certain stories will get left on the cutting room floor.  How does one decide what news items to include?

I know that he’s a big star and all but while we’re hearing about the mishap of “Mr. Jeopardy” I can’t help but wonder what important news story is not being told? Somewhere something vitally important is taking place and we may never catch wind of it because we’re being inundated with the latest news regarding Lindsey Lohan, Donald Trump, or the latest runaway bride.

I found out about a real life example of such a story swap while watching a movie called IOUSA

In this movie, Robert Bixby of the Concord Coalition and David Walker, former Controller General of USA were on a countrywide tour to sound the alarm regarding the nation’s debt / deficit crisis.

While on tour, they were schedule to appear on that evenings’ news broadcast hopefully raising the issue to an even higher level.  As it turned out that story was bumped in favor of a story regarding someone who swallowed a diamond engagement ring! 

Now you tell me, “Which story was of greater overall value to the viewing public?”

I remember when San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey was injured in a home plate collision a few months ago. I was shocked when a local station LEAD OFF their newscast with that story.  I know media is all about the pursuit of ratings but it makes me wonder what the heck is going on?

Another troubling aspect of the average newscast is that they all essential lead with the same 2-3 stories and with rare exception cover the same items throughout their broadcast. Shouldn’t there be greater competition for the most important, compelling and interesting stories?

Thank goodness for organizations like Project Censored or BBC News to provide a wider lens from which to receive relevant news.

Can you imagine what a different landscape the television news industry would be if every station had entirely different news stories within their broadcasts?  That would create some serious competition for eyeballs!

I guess that’s why so many people get their news off of the web these days.

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