August 27, 2002

Changes in television news since 9/11…

Have the events of 9/11 changed the way TV covers the news? It appears the answer is yes and no, according to this story in the Los Angeles Times. I found this part interesting:

“As for the cable news universe, CNN decided its mission would henceforth be serious news. ‘I think Sept. 11 showed us that the world really matters and covering it in a straight and honest way is a good mission to have,’ said Walter Isaacson, CNN News Group chairman. ‘It’s reinvigorated us and allowed us to follow our passion, which is journalism.'”

Huh? I have to wonder about a group chairman who apparently had so little clue about the mission of a news operation. But then his job isn’t to lead a news operation in a journalistic mission. Rather, his job is to keep ratings high. This paragraph followed:

“Audiences had other ideas, however. While all cable networks have more viewers than a year ago, audiences have favored Fox News Channel, which pursues an opposite strategy; its schedule is filled with opinion-laced shows that more closely resemble talk radio. It surged into first place among cable news networks several months after the attacks and has stayed there. That prompted MSNBC to follow suit, with its own opinion-driven schedule. The attacks ‘re-energized cable news and carved out a new audience of people so totally into this story,’ said NBC News President Neal Shapiro.”

Or, perhaps, re-energized cable entertainment. The simplistic, polemic presentation that most cable opinion shows give to complex situations hardly qualifies as news or useful commentary. Ken Waters, a journalism professor at Pepperdine University quoted in the article, gives TV news a ‘C’ for its coverage, saying there is “an awareness of a need, and some attempts to improve. But I think they have a ways to go.” To that I say: Grade inflation!

August 27, 2002

Cheney rattles his saber…

Howard Kurtz reviews the press coverage of Dick Cheney’s saber rattling.

August 27, 2002

Leonard Pitts on over-layed stories…

Among the many columns this summer about over-played news, this one by Leonard Pitts is one of the best.

UPDATE: Here is a look at British coverage, by the “media pack,” of the recent abduction and murder of two children.

August 26, 2002

More on colorful characters leaving Washington…

CNN is a little late with this story. What’s treated as a lament should be hailed as events moving in the right direction.

August 26, 2002

weblog numbers overrated

Wired asks if this is truly one nation, under blog? The numbers we hear talked about, such as those in a recent Newsweek article, claim about 500,000. Maybe. Who knows? It would be good to find out. But:

“Industry research powerhouses are likely to stay away from the blog-osphere until it reaches profitability. Gartner, Neilsen//NetRatings, Forrester Research and International Data Corporation don’t have a single analyst involved in gathering blogging data. ‘The area of weblogs isn’t covered by our analysts because there is such a limited amount of data,’ said Grace Kim of Neilsen//NetRatings. ‘Right now it’s not that popular, and there is no data.'”

August 26, 2002

Wall Street Journal, Coulter, and entertainment…

It’s official: Ann Coulter is an entertainer. Don’t take my word for it. Believe The Wall Street Journal. Melik Kaylan says:

“We have been programmed to think that such impassioned outrage, and outrageousness, are permissible only on the left, from counter-culture comedians or exponents of identity politics, certainly not from nice blonde Connecticut-born Republican girls. From Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, Angela Davis, Reverend Farrakhan, yes. Ann Coulter — heaven forbid.”

Interesting list: two entertainers, one politician, and a preacher. Now Kaylan’s point is well taken, and I agree to a certain extent. There are more than few conservatives who deal in entertaining outrage also–all men. So is leaving Coulter out of the club sexist?

What strikes me as interesting about this column is that Kaylan doesn’t defend Coulter as a reasonable contributor to civic discourse. That’s not Coulter

August 26, 2002

Reporters react emotionaly to human events…

Howard Kurtz is good at letting other voices tell the story. As we near the anniversary of the 9/11 catastrophe, Kurtz brings us the voices of journalists who rushed toward danger that day. What makes journalists put themselves in harm

August 23, 2002

What women want from TV…

Could it be that women want beauty tips and politics on TV? Perhaps we might generalize this and say: People want journalism that covers personal needs and the important civic issues of the day–not one without the other. Hmmmmm…interesting.

August 23, 2002

TV may not show planes hitting towers…

According to this report, TV executives will “exercise constraint when it comes to showing the planes hitting the Twin Towers – and other graphic footage burned into the nation’s psyche” on the 9/11 anniversary. I don’t believe it. I don’t think TV can constrain itself in this regard. But, I may be wrong, and I hope I am wrong. The reason I hope I’m wrong is that if TV can show restraint on this anniversary, then it might be that there’s hope yet for that medium. Okay, I’ve called for a TV boycott on 9/11. I’m not backing off. But, if you do watch and it turns out that TV handles the day with respect, then please send e-mail or leave a comment. (Thanks to William Quick’s Daily Pundit)

August 23, 2002

Sly advertising…

Celebs, and their commercial sponsors, have been sneaking product mentions into interviews, which, if you’re selling a product, is a pretty good idea. But, if you’re the television interviewer trying to be a journalist, and not just another entertainer masquerading as a journalist, such tactics attack your credibility. CNN is now going to do something about it.

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