For some time we have been bemoaning a trend in network news on TV. The stations repeatedly tell you what they will be covering. Five, six, seven times they will “tease” you with the news to come. And when it’s time to report on those subjects, they don’t have time to say more than a sentence, or two if you are lucky. This is not the journalism I remember from my childhood. Walter Cronkite, Chet Huntley and Peter Jennings must be spinning in their graves each time a network news program is aired.
It used to be that “Who,” “What,” “Where,” and “When” were the absolute minimum in reporting, and we hoped to to know “Why” as well. Sometimes we also were treated to “How.” Now, we’re lucky if we get two of these questions answered. Frequently we are told that someone has been shot, but while they might tell us the corner where the shooting took place, they most likely won’t tell us where the victim was hit, or whether they will survive.
Today must be a very slow news day. The big news byte is that the shooting in California is now being classified as a terrorist attack. I think we could conservatively guess that in a five minute period at 4:55 this afternoon, we heard this same comment fifteen to eighteen times on one station. I’m sure it’s the same on all the others. Why not do a good job of covering the story in full, and then go on to other news? Just as I am sick of the commercialization of Christmas, I detest the same thing happening to the news.
Serious reporting has disappeared at such an alarming rate that we are changing to news programs that will give us the deeper story, like the “PBS Newshour” and “Charlie Rose.” I rarely go to CNN for news, but I may check them out to see if they are doing a better job than the networks.
And, while I’m at it, it seems that radio news announcers feel that time is money, so they now leave out the little verbs, and report in incomplete sentences. Stations which used to pride themselves on their presentations feel they have to go with the flow, so there will be a generation of radio listeners who won’t know there is anything wrong with this.
We need a groundswell of complaint, a grass roots movement, to let the stations know WE DON’T LIKE IT!!