Lear Center Director Martin Kaplan, Seton Hall University researcher
Matthew Hale and a passel of unusually resilient graduate students
plowed through nearly 500 hours of news from eight Los Angeles
television outlets, drawn from 14 random days last August and September.
They found out, in essence, that the average half-hour of local news is neither very local nor very newsy.
each 30-minute segment, more than eight minutes go to advertising. An
additional 7 1/2 minutes focus on stories outside Southern California.
Sports, weather and teasers (touting the dreck scheduled later that
hour, day or week) take up a total of nearly six minutes.
eight remaining minutes might amount to something worthwhile. But they
get frittered away too — mostly with soft features and, especially,
coverage of the latest murder or string of burglaries.
recall an evening newscast that didn’t include an animal in a
predicament or at least one story gift-wrapped in yellow police tape. A
regular diet of this stuff might reasonably have you cowering in your
house. Never mind that statistics (so meddlesome, those numbers that
provide context) show crime in fairly sharp decline in recent years.
The stations demonstrate an utter lack of concern about challenges to
their public service content. Just look at the files they’re required
by the FCC to maintain (also examined by the USC investigators) on
their “significant treatment of issues facing the community.”
of KNBC’s reports last year listed a story about “a rare humpback
whale” spotted off Australia. KTLA (which, like The Times, is owned by
Tribune Co.) cited its coverage of an Abercrombie & Fitch lawsuit
against Beyoncé — over the name of her perfume.
Whenever I bitch about stuff like this on Twitter I get some crabby reply from a local journo with an example of a a great story I obviously didn’t notice because I’m just like all those teabaggers screaming about the librul media and not paying attention, but the exception isn’t the point. The rule is.