Thursday, January 18, 2007

More Americans Rely on Web for Political News

I think that this is true not just for political news but for all news. I have not watched a nightly news program, local or national, in months. I just can not stomach it any longer. TV news suffers from two very big and very real problems that they just are not willing to acknowledge or correct.

The first problem is the obvious left leaning bias that is just so prevalent in TV land as a whole and the news in particular. When was the last time the nightly news covered a story involving the use of a gun for self defense that did not try to vilify the citizen? When was the last time you watch any positive news from Iraq? How about positive economic news? If any of these are mentioned, the news is always careful to balance it out with the bad news. Housing prices are rising putting the squeeze on first time home owners. Next the story is Housing prices are falling, causing existing home owners to loose equity. Most stories have two sides unless it is event reporting and it would just be nice to hear both sides for a change. A prime example of this was the debate a few weeks ago concerning the minimum wage hike. You could tell that all of the networks were for it based on their coverage. They were sure to include in each story the required reference to a single mother with kids, struggling to survive on minimum wage. At no time were the consequences of a minimum wage increase covered. If you only watched the news, you would think that there were no negative consequences at all. If you raise the minimum wage by around $2 which is about a 25% increase there will be consequences. The extra money for salaries has to come from somewhere. Some businesses will raise prices, some will delay hiring more help and some will fire existing employees. None of that is ever discussed as part of the news coverage. Another thing not covered is that the number of minimum wage jobs held by head-of-households is very small. Most are students and part timers. After the wage hike there will be fewer of those entry level jobs to go around.

The second thing the news needs to fix it’s obsession with the “human interest” part of every single story. A store burns down and the reporters ask the employees how they feel. A home is raided for drugs and the neighbors are interviewed asking what they think and feel. I don’t care what these people think or feel. They are NOT the story. The story is the event and every once in a while it would be nice to get a complete fact filled story about the event and leave the bystanders out of it.

By using the Internet, I can search for relevant stories and if they don’t get to the point in the first few sentences, I can move on. I am not locked into the news program’s format and forced to listen to 45 seconds of incomplete facts followed by 3 minutes of touchy-feely before the next story starts. If I am reading a news blog and I think the story is incomplete or misleading, I have the option of leaving a comment or sending an email to get a clarification. I can also just leave and not come back. The Internet is not killing TV news, TV news it is committing suicide and the Internet is just filling the void.

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