Wednesday, March 17, 2010

TV News ... well, not so much news as TV

A study reported by the LATimes says L.A. TV "news" broadcasts devote only 22 seconds per 30 minutes to local government coverage.  That's sad.  Especially since many people say they rely on local TV for news.

The math is depressing.  In 30 minutes, here's what they found:
  • 8 minutes goes to advertising.  Okay, that makes sense.  Ya gotta pay the bills.
  • 7 1/2 minutes are devoted to stories outside the local area.  Why?  That's why God made CNN, or the Internet.
  • Six minutes go to fluff -- sports, weather, teasers.
  • About 8 minutes go to worthwhile news, but a lot of that is soft features, crime, cats in trouble, etc.  Damn little policy or government coverage.
In terms of what people know, local TV news fails miserably to play its part.  That's why in a political scientist's breakdown of the news media: traditional, tabloid, advocacy, and entertainment news, he plops local TV news in the "tabloid" category.  Profit overwhelms coverage, therefore it fails to qualify under the criteria of "traditional" news.  Maybe I'll break this down more later, in a later blog, but local TV news long ago surrendered any claim to traditional journalism and, often, any claim to journalism period.

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