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.
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: