By Gerard Braud
It is all about ratings. Television news is all about ratings.
What gets on television news is less about the public’s need to know for the betterment of society and more about drawing in viewers, so as to increase advertising revenue.
Television news is a business for profit, where once it was an extension of journalism intended to inform the electorate.
If I may be so bold as to predict the future for television news, I anticipate that it will slowly fade away just as America’s newspapers are fading away. Case in point: The New Orleans Times-Picayune, in my own hometown, became the first major publication to cut back to only being printed three days a week instead of daily. We jokingly call it the New Orleans Sometimes Picayune, because you really never know when you are going to get one or see one.
Even with my university degree in journalism, I had cancelled my newspaper subscription years prior to the paper’s drastic cutback. I canceled my Times-Picayune subscription because each morning when I read the paper, I already knew most of the facts because the same stories were featured hours and often days before, via television, radio and the web.
As a self-professed television junky, who watches up to six news programs over 90 minutes every morning, I’m significantly cutting back my viewing time and changing the channel every time I see a news program run video that I already saw one, two or three days ago.
Old news is old news and I don’t need to see it again. Hence, as I and others tune out, the ratings drop, revenues fall, and the media disintegrates more, as they feature a regurgitation of online content that is costing them nothing to show. Yes, there is no need for a reporter or photographer in television news when producers can rely on unpaid interns to look for trending online content, which the networks steal at no cost — unless you consider the cost of your lost integrity
In 1982 Don Henley sang the song, “Dirty Laundry,” about television news. His lyrics include the line, “Crap is king.” Never has that been more true than today. Never will it be even more true than tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after, and the day after…