Friday, June 12, 2015

Television News

There are a lot of suggestions out in the media ether that offer ways to fix television news.

Ale Velshi, a program host at Al Jazeera America had one published in the Washington Post the other day. It was good and offered some practical ways to bring credibility back to television news.

I have some suggestions. Take newscasts out of the ratings book and go back to the basics. Stop the pontificating, the instant analysis, the critiques, the conjecture, and the incessant claims of being first and the over used label of “exclusive.”

I don’t care if you were the first or the only network that has the story. It’s not going to make me watch your newscast next time. Consistency in facts, diligence in getting them, clarity in delivery and trust will bring me back night after night.

Please use the proper tenses when telling me the story. Don’t say, “ A woman is injured by a bus.” We are not seeing it as it happened. Say, “A woman was injured and when it happened.”

What are the basics? The five W’s. Who, What, Where, When, Why and the important “H.” How!
Rudyard Kipling put it best. “I keep six honest serving-men, (They taught me all I knew); their names are What and Why and When, and How and Where and Who.”

Amplify the role of the reporter. Downplay the roles of the commentator and the analyst.

Tell me only the facts. Use simple declarative sentences and proper grammar. I don’t need personal comments, asides, and editorial pauses to help me be informed. I need impartiality, truth, and accurate information and I will decide how it affects my life and my community.

The public too has a responsibility to keep informed. If you watch just one network, you are not informed. If you read one newspaper, you are not informed. Diversity is the handmaiden of informed.

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