Sunday, December 12, 2004

Cable TV News and Sports Have Their Shortcomings

ESPN was thoroughly annoying Saturday evening, Dec. 11, with its program on the Heisman presentation. Not until the 56th minute of the 60-minute show was the presentation to USC's Matt Leinart actually made, leaving virtually no time for any analysis, interviews, etc. It seemed all designed to keep the audience looking at the ads throughout to the exclusion of any considerations of news coverage. Like so much TV news, it was mostly hype and comparatively little revelation.

This is one of the most serious shortcomings of cable television news, and, to a somewhat lesser extent, network news. They spend much of the programs saying that this and that is "next." Then, they go on to multiple other topics before "next" arrives and sometimes, when it does, it's an anticlimax.

Reading a newspaper, in this respect, has it all over television, since the reader can easily go immediately to what he or she is most interested in and read all about it.

Not to mention how much more detail is in the newspaper, and how many more topics there are.

It's amazing to me what does NOT get onto 24-hour cable news. CNN is particularly bad at confining itself to just a few topics. The decent newspapers come the next day with a much more complete report. Even a major story, like the attack this past week on the U.S Consulate in Jidda, Saudi Arabia, was much more comprehensively handled in the newspapers than the scanty "live" reports on cable tv.

The morning shows on both CNN and FOX are poorly organized, even of the top stories of the day. I'd exempt Soledad O'Brien to some extent from the criticism, since she is obviously very intelligent. By and large, however, the morning paper is much more illuminating than cable news, explaining why the papers aren't dead yet.

And even Time and Newsweek, coming a week later, don't suffer all that much from being a week late, since they can often put things in careful perspective.



Blogger Tom Grey said...

Why not start a "Blogging News" TV show, trying to get the (Leftist) LA Weekly and some right groups/ bloggers, and do it more intelligently, in a local cable news market -- on the cheap?

With lower and lower cost e-video (the comp PC, not poli), the economics of doing a very good content show are going down.

Most bloggers would happily, AND rapidly, give permission to be quoted on a TV show.

12/13/2004 6:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ken: Local (LA) TV news may well be the most egregious offender in the "still-to-come" category. Channel 4 routinely gives us two teasers before getting to the actual weather forecast. Even worse is the standard advisory, on the 4:30 news: "more details at six."
-- Fran Kent

12/13/2004 2:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm surprised anyone bothers to watch local news, or at least more than a few minutes of it. Not only does it often have annoying teasers, but the hooks that KCBS, KNBC, KABC, KTTV, etc, will dangle in front of viewers for what seems like hours on end frequently lead to but a few seconds of coverage, which tend to be about as satisfying as a bowl of cold, watery soup. Then there's the same damn crime stories ad nauseam or any number of big-whoop, dull topics that local news-show producers believe require the stationing of at least one reporter on the spot, out on location no matter what (it's LIVE and late breaking!!!).

As for the innumerable times local TV news broadcasts will tear up their regular schedule in order to feature yet again one more telecopter-camera shot of cops-chasing-car, which the audience apparently eats up like candy, I think showing paint drying would be not much less interesting or newsworthy.

12/13/2004 11:11 PM  
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