Viewpoint: TV news blues

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    I stopped watching TV news long ago. I decided I could be more informed reading the newspaper, and I have proved myself right. However, that does not protect me from being bombarded by commercials for news shows.

    I get angry when I see those commercials. My roommates will attest to that. Last night we were watching a program, when during the break one of those irresponsible advertisements came on. It was a commercial for the ?Gas Saving Squad,? a group of fun-loving local news anchors who are so helpful and happy that they have dedicated their precious time to finding the best deals on gasoline for the rest of us. It was so cutesy, I picked up the nearest small object and threw it at the TV screen in disgust.

    Then Fox 13 (the kings of stupid, trivial news, uh?entertainment rather) ran a commercial for a story by one of their investigative reporters. I can?t even remember what the story was about. But I do remember the dramatic voice-over and the intense shot of the reporter?s face ? first profile, then turning to look seriously into the camera. Is this a news show or another episode of ?24??

    I remember watching a bit of a local news broadcast around Thanksgiving. The report was about last-minute shoppers at the grocery store (did I say news?). As if that isn?t trivial enough, the reporter did his report from a shopping cart – sprawled out in the cart and talking into the camera while somebody pushed him around! There?s no other way to put it; he looked stupid.

    Is there nothing better to report? Yes there is. There are political decisions, natural disasters, deaths, service activities, news of the economy, news of education, national news, international news, technological news and so much more. Most local news shows last little more than a half hour. They should try to fill as much of that half hour as possible with real news. That is their duty as journalists.

    Why does everyone joke that Americans are so ignorant to the outside world? Where do we get our news? That?s the problem. We don?t get our news, because we as a people are too lazy to read the paper and instead we try to get our information from the television. Those who work in TV broadcasters do not seem to give us much credit for being intelligent people. In my opinion, a person could be more informed watching The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Letterman or Conan O?Brien than they could watching a ?serious? news show. At least those entertainers give us some credit and respect.

    Another problem with broadcast news is the focus on personalities instead of information. In my experience as a communications student who has heard several speak, news anchors tend to lean towards arrogance. I know it takes a certain talent to read the news in a pleasing manner, but we should stop giving them more credit than they deserve.

    As for the many friends I have (or had, until now) entering the field, I hope they continue to be responsible. They are intelligent people, and I hope they will be courageous enough to try and change things when they enter the workforce.

    Now that I have ranted about the news broadcasters themselves, I must say I realize that in order for them to function, TV news stations need viewers. Therefore, they run stories that appeal to the needs and wants of those viewers. Which means the blame for such mediocrity and stupidity also lies with those of us who watch. If the majority of viewers are responsible in their viewing habits, demanding real news instead of fluff, the broadcasters will have to change. So let?s not watch those news programs that are only trying to entertain. There are a few good ones out there, and we should lend them our eyes and ears instead. Leave the entertaining to the entertainers.

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