From time to time, we make observations and suggestions in this space that some entertainment or radio-TV news people find hard to take.
One of our most unpopular industry notes to date is on the proliferation of non-news items in our so-called newscasts.
They are full of reports on crimes, killings, fires, accidents, car crashes, weird occurrences, oddities, freaks, sob stories, stellar confrontations, starlets’ attention-grabbing antics and gambits, shameless and extended plugs of forthcoming TV and movie attractions, and product spots disguised as “public service.”
These loud and livid features take up so much time and space on newscasts that too little is left for real news—about events that come significantly to bear on our national life and prospects.
Some broadcast news people insist that reports about individual crimes, rapes or accidents are legitimate news, because they “warn” viewers about the dangers that could be threatening to harm them from day to day.
But, the shrill and subjective presentation of those crime stories betrays their true intent, which is to grab viewers’ avid and even lurid attention—and hold it at all cost.
As for the self-serving plugs, show biz gossip and other bright and brittle distractions that further eat up much of the time that’s left, the giveaway question is: Would any of them make a difference in our lives tomorrow?
The escalation of non-news on TV newscasts can be traced to the rise in popularity of so-called “infotainment” on the boob tube. Yes, its clever proponents concede, TV news should inform—but, it should do it “entertainingly,” meaning that the “fact pill” should be coated with a lot of sugar, to make swallowing it much easier and more “enjoyable.”
Trouble is, some legitimate news events are too complex and thought-provocative to be sweetened up or watered down, without their significance being severely compromised.
So, newscasts determined to be popular and “viewer-friendly” opt to do without them completely.
Viewers who want to get real information and significance from the newscasts they view should protest against the “coopting” rise of “infotainment.”
They can use as their guide what the major broadsheets are doing: Much of their front pages is reserved for
the real news, while individual crimes, fires and accidents are reported in the papers’ inside pages, admitting to their relative lack of significance.
Local newscasts should also devote more time to
regional and international news, so that viewers can expand the context of their concerns and lives.
One reason why we are still so insular and limited in our perceptions is the fact that our newscasts encourage the so-called neighborhood or kanto context—in this day and age!
Most importantly, TV newscasts should help us move or level up, from a basic and simplistic interest in individual crime or even “legit news” events, to a more holistic understanding of our nation’s public life beyond the daily or nightly news.
Life has become so complex and challenging that we’ve got to widen and deepen our appreciation of what’s truly pertinent and significant, for us to truly “globally” compete!