Effect Measure

My lede was going to be, “I rarely watch local TV news anymore,” until I realized that was false. Because I never look at local TV news. Why should I? I won’t learn anything. I can get the weather faster on the internet and I’m not that interested in sports. What about the “local news,” the news of my city, town or even state? I’m missing that, right? After all, a legal condition for the use of the public airways — airways (frequencies) used by a TV station are therefore not available to others — is that they operate in the public interest by providing “programming that is responsive to the needs and problems of its local community.” They even have to keep records substantiating they do this, documentation that can be challenged and might be an issue when it is time to renew their licenses. Except of course they could care less about this requirement:

From what a USC Norman Lear Center study has concluded — Los Angeles television news stations manage just 22 seconds of local government coverage for every half hour on the air — broadcasters follow FCC rules like L.A. drivers follow stop signs: as helpful reminders for anyone who doesn’t happen to be in a big hurry.

[snip]

Lear Center Director Martin Kaplan, Seton Hall University researcher Matthew Hale and a passel of unusually resilient graduate students plowed through nearly 500 hours of news from eight Los Angeles television outlets, drawn from 14 random days last August and September.

They found out, in essence, that the average half-hour of local news is neither very local nor very newsy.

In each 30-minute segment, more than eight minutes go to advertising. An additional 7 1/2 minutes focus on stories outside Southern California. Sports, weather and teasers (touting the dreck scheduled later that hour, day or week) take up a total of nearly six minutes.

The eight remaining minutes might amount to something worthwhile. But they get frittered away too — mostly with soft features and, especially, coverage of the latest murder or string of burglaries. (James Rainey, LA Times, h/t Boingboing)

This pretty much confirms my vague memory of the last time I tuned in to local news. There was no news on it. Even the national and international stories were so cursory that I could learn more in 30 seconds on the internet than I could in 30 minutes of local news. Nor is it just local news. I don’t watch the network’s nightly news any more either. They are really dreadful and also have little content. If I want to get news from TV, I tune in to the PBS Newshour and local news from the local PBS affiliate.

Cable? Since I’m a political junkie I watch some of that but as far as “breaking news,” it’s all bullshit, all the time:


Breaking News: Some Bullshit Happening Somewhere

Comments

  1. #1 Kevin
    March 18, 2010

    I want a job at the Onion…

  2. #2 Mark P
    March 18, 2010

    Yes. Yes. Yes. It’s all a joke. Like the networks calling their news “World News” when you can get better coverage of the world and of the US from the BBC. But, hey, that makes it easy for the guys and gals who do our thinking and explaining for us. I don’t want them to work too hard, and I’m sure you don’t either. Its better for us that we think the world is nothing but traffic accidents and shootings. It lets us focus on becoming paranoid instead of informed.

  3. #3 dubiquiabs
    March 18, 2010

    The international web page of “Der Spiegel” seems to have a pretty good I/B* ratio: http://www.spiegel.de/international/

    *information/bullshit

  4. #4 Connie
    March 18, 2010

    I’m with you. I geve up on local (in fact all) TV news about 15 years ago. NPR and a local newspaper get me through.

  5. #5 Ahcuah
    March 18, 2010

    Heh. The local news producers are so clueless.

    They think that a “tease” before going to commercial is a good idea (because it was a good idea 20 years ago when they were the only game in town).

    Nowadays, if they give me a “tease” that sounds interesting, I’ll turn off the news and go look it up on the internet.

    Duh.

    I wonder how much time they waste just giving us teases that are nearly as long as the “news” story would be.

  6. #6 C. Corax
    March 18, 2010

    It would be helpful if people began to challenge stations’ license renewals. If enough people do it often enough, the cost to the stations for lawyering up (they MUST engage an attorney every time a complaint is filed against them) will make it easier for them to either cover local news, or sell the station.

  7. #7 Marc
    March 18, 2010

    “Cable? Since I’m a political junkie I watch some of that but as far as “breaking news,” it’s all bullshit, all the time:”

    Pointless just like the rest. You are not getting enough Chomsky vitamin daily. Report to DemocracyNow! and The Real News Network immediately.

  8. #8 Kaleberg
    March 19, 2010

    You say they could care less. I say they couldn’t.

  9. #9 Magpie
    March 20, 2010

    You say they could care less. I say they couldn’t.

    Yeah, it hurts me too.

    But then, “head over heels” got into the language, probably just an often repeated corruption like this one. I guess I should stop struggling. Kinda interesting to watch how a phrase becomes a word in itself, not bound by the meaning of the parts that make it up.