Commentary

Lousy news: How anchors are fighting back

Everyone is upset about soft news coverage. I’ve written about it numerous times, and blogs consistently host diatribes against watered-down, mainstream news. Paris Hilton’s jail release has added gallons of fuel to this fire, and now news anchors are fighting back.

Anyone watching AC 360 after Larry King's interview saw that Anderson Cooper wasn’t happy that he had to cover this story in depth. He opened by disdainfully stating his show couldn’t be “above the news” –though he made it clear that the heiress’s jail time was not, in fact, newsworthy. He openly refuted one of his guest’s comments by saying “Let’s not pretend—this is not important.” It was one of the few times I really liked that my news was completely, and obviously, biased.

But I think one of my favorite declarations came from an MSNBC anchor who refused to cover the story several times during the morning newscast. She ripped up her script, tried to burn another, and shredded the third. Though it was most likely staged, it was hilarious and openly provoked questions as to the networks’, anchors’ and producers’ responsibilities in reporting IMPORTANT news.

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Yeah, I do recognize the irony in writing on something I hate hearing about, but there are some larger issues here.

Networks are catering to the masses, but supposedly the masses hate this type of news. Not one of us will fess up to watching vapid news programs, and every one of us will condemn stations for showing Paris’ pre-jail trip to Target for art supplies. The TV ratings are there… so who’s tuning in?

Furthermore, if anchors and producers hate this news so much, why aren’t the doing more to change it? I think these open declarations by Cooper and other anchors are a good start, but if there is no further action and little lasting change, what good are these gestures?

4 comments about "Lousy news: How anchors are fighting back".
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  1. John Missale, July 9, 2007 at 3:50 p.m.

    Keep the masses stupid, stupid.

  2. Eric Yaverbaum from Ericho Communications, July 9, 2007 at 4 p.m.

    We can debate this all we want. 25 years ago we all wondered why the National Enquirer had the highest circulation of any print publication in the country? Is any of that ever true? It's really all about the almighty $$$$$. Advertisers will pay where the many will go...and the many go to hear all day about Lindsay Lohan in rehab. Twenty years ago Danny Schecter wrote a book called The More We Watch The Less We Know. And since he came from 20/20, I found the book a little eye opening...little did I know. Hope the leader of the free world in press attention, Paris Hilton doesn't get arrested again when anything "important" is happening. We might miss a war or the election of the next President?

    Eric Yaverbaum
    Ericho Communications

  3. David, July 9, 2007 at 4:05 p.m.

    MSNBC, with attitudes such as this anchor and Keith Olbermann, is starting to win a warm spot in my heart.

  4. Peter Howson, July 9, 2007 at 4:44 p.m.

    There's one simple reason networks cover this kind of soft news. It's not because people will watch it. It's because the number of people who will watch it relative to the cost of covering it makes it far more affordable to fill that 2 minute segment with pablum than sending someone to Sudan to cover Darfur to produce 2 minutes on actual news. I recently read somewhere that the bulk of college age to young professional people in this country turn to the BBC for their news about the US and then turn to US news outlets for their news about Paris Hilton, or Sean Combs, or Nicole Richie, or the Olsen twins, etc.

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