Some Media Topics Only Need Coverage When Narrative Changes

The Congressional rank and file couldn’t cut a deal on how to put the economy on a path to recovery. So, it turned to a super committee.

No luck there either.

If that failure didn’t augur such dire consequences, it would be tempting to call for the media to stop covering Congressional dysfunction. It’s just no longer news.

At this point, the only thing worth reporting would be the converse. Save the ink and Web pages and TV segments for when an actual agreement is reached. There’s no need even for stories akin to “Congressional leaders are giving signs that the two sides are nearing common ground.”

In the media world, there are a number of stories that merit a similar moratorium. Coverage should stop immediately about Fox News viewers being tragically uninformed; about Americans wanting a new, huge TV set; and about TV executives dismissing cord-cutting as a threat.

There is nothing of interest here if those angles continue. Hold off until any of those narratives change. Wait until situations merit headlines such as: “New Poll: Fox Is Top News Source for Rhodes Scholars”; “People Say They Can Make Do With TV Sets They Own”; or “Cable Chiefs Say Customers Believe All Good Content Can Be Found Online.”    



The Fox News matter percolates frequently, notably in June when Jon Stewart visited Chris Wallace’s Sunday morning show and offered up: "Who (are) the most consistently misinformed media viewers? The most consistently misinformed! Fox ... consistenly ... every poll."

And, sure enough came poll results this week from Fairleigh Dickinson hinting the same. The research is complex and offers some interesting food for thought, but the authors couldn’t resist writing up top that “some outlets, especially Fox News, lead people to be even less informed” than those not watching any news at all. Also: Fox News viewers are “18 points less likely to know that Egyptians overthrew their government” than those eschewing TV news.

Even the most ardent Fox News hater should concede there really isn’t much that comes from these type of results -- just headlines that continue the argument that Fox is unfair and biased. Also, when “less informed” is used to describe Fox News viewers -- intentionally or not -- that's a euphemism for right-leaning hard-liner. Is that unfair to network fans, who may actually be able to make their own decisions while watching?     

Moving to another fertile area of media research, let’s agree that the vast majority of Americans would love to purchase a bigger TV set that offers better quality HD and maybe allows for an Internet connection. Let’s agree they want souped-up DVRs and Blu-ray players. Or at least, they're likely to tell a pollster, they do.

The well-respected Magid Associates has new research about the hunger to buy new TV hardware, saying 40% of consumers hint they will look to buy a new TV in the next year, while “TV purchase intentions have climbed back to near pre-recession levels.”

“Superior display, wide-screen format, and Internet connectivity top the list of TV set features in greatest demand,” Magid writes.

Magid does suggest that SmartTVs will become sweepingly popular, while it also notes that purchase intent for a 3D TV set is down significantly.

But not much of its research is counterintuitive, so until things change dramatically, let's let Magid have the last word.

A similar dynamic goes for CEO comments on cord-cutting. No executive at a cable operator or programming giant says there’s much reason to believe people are dropping TV subscriptions because they're satisfied broadband can suffice as their media provider. Instead, they pin subscriber declines on the economy or lack of new housing units.

Their doubts remain hard to believe, but let’s trust them and wait for a new take. That will be news.

2 comments about "Some Media Topics Only Need Coverage When Narrative Changes ".
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  1. T Y from Freelance Producer / DP, November 23, 2011 at 10:26 a.m.

    News and media exist to sell advertising not to inform. Americans want coverage on Snooki (sp?) and whoever the best dancer is much more than the intricacies of fiscal and budgetary policy. 24 hour news channels need to fill the time.

    As long as Faux News continues on its primary purpose to get ultra-conservatives elected, I hope that organizations continue to accurately study the effects of the rightwing media onslaught. It’s not a case of being a Faux News “hater” it’s that they have a very biased, non-mainstream viewpoint. No other news organization approaches personnel hiring and editorial decisions from such a skewed, perverse, far right propaganda agenda. As an example, a vast majority of Americans favor Social Security and Medicare. But when the “reporters” on Faux News couch their coverage in terms of “socialism” and other labels, then the average American recoils.

    Faux News is a chief instigator of the DC gridlock. Americans want compromise on budgeting but morning, midday and evening on Faux comes the drumbeat of “no compromise” and “Democrats are socialists.” Where does that leave us?

  2. ken spears from Anuities Rates, May 24, 2012 at 3:55 p.m.

    Also we need to do some Media topics about the cities getting abandon, not only all about the government. Media cover for our people who cant eat 3 times a day. :( annuities rates

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