Friday, October 24, 2008


I loved 24 hour news when it began , promising more channels, more coverage, more background. Now, I’m not so sure.

More channels, yes. But not more coverage, just a lot of similar coverage of the same things. And the channels end up chasing new tidbits to feed the appetite required to sustain 24 hours making it impossible to really do more background.

Now we have a billion channels but all chasing the same stories, the same angles, the same sound bites, often in a feeding frenzy…

We need more media coverage but at the local level and resourced to provide in-depth, feature and investigative reporting. But changes similar to 24 hour news proliferation has sucked the ad revenue out of local news media so we now have the worst of both worlds…superficial, repetitive coverage at one level and local news media that is only a shadow of what it was…

This is particularly concerning during elections. Political ads can trash, impugn, denigrate, distort, and obfuscate, because unlike business advertising, they are not regulated by “truth in advertising.”

We desperately need a news media paradigm at all levels with the resources to keep the process honest. I especially like the very few programs on TV and the radio today that try to dissect fact from fiction. There need to be more.

Or more media that will do like NPR did when one candidate kept repeating a deliberate distortion recently. All news media should just begin adding a “qualification of fact” right after repeating what the politician has again repeated. There has to be some check and balance to the power of negative advertising.

Right now, I read or watch reports of events and they seem more and more like newsletter articles. People say things that are printed with no confirmation, with no follow-up question to make them prove their point, and with no accountability while reporters interview other reporters as sources. And in this world…say something three times and its fact…just listen to those robo calls both local and national repeating assertions over and over without validation, without challenge…

Let’s find a way to put the local back in local news media. A couple of 24 hour news sources is fine but they are no substitute.

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