10 September 2003

Return of the Newsman

In case you're just joining us, let me disclaim this post by reintroducing the players.

First, a communication professor at the University of Notre Dame by the name of Ted Mandell wrote a letter to a local TV station that was subsequently published in the Indianapolis Star.
Mandell teaches in the Department of Film, Television and Theater at the University of Notre Dame.

Next, a response to Mandell's letter came via my source for the letter, Grahme Newell's Ideanet, a television newsletter for industry folk. It was also posted in this space on the 29 of August.
That letter was written by Tom Long, VP/GM of WRGB, Albany/Schenecdady/Troy, a TV station in New York.

But as we all know, everything on television comes in threes.

Heretofore, the trifecta installment in the TV News Secrets Saga....from a Cronkite disciple nonetheless.

As always, Comments are not only welcomed, they're encouraged.

Response to 8/25/03 article "The Ten Little Secrets Of Local TV News":

"I must take exception with Tom Long's letter regarding Ted Mandell's article.

While it is certainly not surprising that Mr. Long would stoop to a personal attack, as seems to be the case whenever the news media is criticized, his denials about the state of local news and his suggested solutions actually underscore Mandell's point.

Mandell is absolutely correct that local news has been co-opted as a cross-promotional tool for the networks broader agenda. The content is often stupefying, insulting, and indeed designed to keep viewers "on the hook" to bridge through the next pod.

Yet, like many of his brethren, Long chooses to blame the viewers - and suggest that audience preference would make local news even worse than it already is. It is this contempt for the needs and tastes of the viewer that allows local television news to deliver less and less. What Long conveniently leaves out is the desire to target demos and cross-promote existing programming.

It is the ceaseless choice of promotion over content that makes local newscasts empty, and ham-handed, and makes newscasters (and their bosses) wildly self-important.

I believe most readers enjoyed the wit of Mandell's article and see the truth behind it.

That Long didn't - or won't - says a great deal.

Sterling Rome
Senior Producer
Luna Vox Productions
(freelance columnist and former assistant to Walter Cronkite, former anchorman CBS Evening News)
-courtesy Grahme Newell
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