I rarely watch network news, you know CBS, NBC or ABC. I’m just too busy doing other things to watch around the dinner hour and if I’m going to watch TV around then, I want entertainment and fun not news, but today was different. We sat down to a casual dinner and turned the big-screen on to ABC Nightly World News. They were reporting live from the Ukraine showing violent civil unrest. Bullets flying all over the place, screaming, Molotov cocktails being tossed! Wow! What a shock to me that a civil war could be occurring across the sea. How enlightening. I’ve heard much bad about network news being poor with their reporting but I was very impressed and immersed. But as soon as I got immersed they went to another story.
The next story also was quite newsworthy as they interviewed the CEO of Apple about a new product that they were now manufacturing . . . in the U.S.! This was newsworthy because Apple’s famous for manufacturing mostly in China. But after explaining how secretive Apple is when it comes to new products and how even their key employees are not even allowed to tell their spouses about what’s going on with company products, they asked the CEO about his feelings on the NSA “spying” on Americans. After a long interview, he said that he feels the American government should have much more transparency with their people. Okay . . . but this coming from a company that has no transparency—seemed weird and perhaps agenda driven but it gets a tad worse.
Then they had a story about surfing in the world and basically how cool it is and how cool it is that some people are surfing on 100 foot waves. I agree, cool! But newsworthy? Newsworthy on a news program that has less than 20 minutes of precious news time?
Then they had a story about fellow ABC correspondent Elizabeth Vargas and her coming back to work from rehab from her personal problem with drinking. They used the phrase “her courageous battle” several times and the “brave fight” she was waging several times as well. While they interviewed her, to her credit, she said that she didn’t want to make her story public, someone let the cat out of the bag and now that it’s public, she would talk about her upbringing and her struggle with alcohol. They probably spent close to five minutes on the matter. Then a relatively short story on an apparently corrupt politician and his wife who plead not guilty to charges of graft.
Then on to a cute video clip about an elderly couple walking out of their home onto their porch while unbeknownst to them, being followed by a small black bear. A security camera picked it all up. Cute, funny and a hoot to see. Newsworthy?
They sealed the newscast up doing a report about a 15 year-old cancer survivor who now is involved in a great cancer awareness and helping organization and how that is helping many cancer sufferers. This was a good chunk of news reporting as it brought hope and awareness and possible help to those in need with cancer, the scourge that has touched most every one of us in one way or another.
But that was the entire prime time world newscast for the day from ABC. No stories of farmers who are struggling against going belly-up in America’s drought torn areas. No stories about murders in Chicago happening every day. No real courageous stories of military men and women being shot at, struggling with no limbs and struggling against Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for answering America’s call. No stories of starvation in Africa, happenings in Europe, South America or our neighbor Canada.
The world news from ABC was poor this day and I suspect most of the network newscasts fare similarly day in and day out. The fact is that Americans who get their daily news from the prime time news shows are clueless to the vast majority of happenings nationwide and worldwide. The news readers or otherwise known as anchors read and inflect properly to what is put in front of them by ratings and ad dollar driven bosses. I wonder what true journalists think about the state of network news?
I say thank God for cable news channels and the Internet where those who want to be informed can do so. They can surf the channels and surf the Internet. Because if you just watch prime-time networks news you will be lost in a sea of limited and often times agenda driven news reporting.
You’ve been given the helm at a major network news company
Imagine that you are the decision maker on who makes the final cut as to what’s to air and what is not to air on a 20 minute newscast. You have ratings to keep in mind and you have your personal feelings on news stories—after all you’re only human. What would you do? How much would you bend to ratings? Would you be completely unbiased and tell the news that is occurring in the word—just the facts—or would you report what you believe to be correct and reportable because you think it will further what you believe to be right and good?
I believe professional journalists would not hesitate to answer this query if they were given the helm of a network news company. They’d report the facts, just the facts and report and write them up well. Are there still true journalists in network news leadership?
Steve's a three-time survivor of violence in his youth and was an award winning police officer.
For several years, Steve also did radio political and current event commentary and taught college Criminal Justice. He is the former host of the long running 'The Kovacs Perspective' Internet radio talk show.
Presently, Steve is the owner and Managing Director of one of the oldest martial art schools in Ohio, 'The Mayfield Academy of Self-Defense'.
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