Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

How U.S. TV news stacks up compared to news around the world

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“different, honest, reactive, independent, direct, live, transparent, open, expert, fair, cutting-edge, undiluted, everywhere, any time”

Are these words that describe your TV newscast?

If you live in the United States, likely not. The words above played in a promo for Euronews, available on the MhZ Networks. The service plays on digital channels of various PBS stations throughout the country.

You could point out that words to describe a news service in a promo don’t mean they are true in reality. Like “fair and balanced.”

But those are words we should strive for to have in a TV newscast. There was a moment, maybe, where newscasts pretended to be some of those things. Now…

Let’s think about some of the 14 words.

“Any time” — doesn’t apply to MSNBC on the weekends.

“Open” “transparent” — doesn’t apply to Fox “News” when it labels a person as supporting terrorists when it doesn’t disclose that the same person owns more of Fox “News” than anyone without the last name of Murdoch.

“independent” — definitely doesn’t apply to any of the three cable news channels as well as the three major networks.

“everywhere” — literally doesn’t apply to any American newscast and probably never will. World newscasts go to places American news doesn’t want to go, certainly not American TV news.

“different” — is relative. Fox is definitely different from the other two cable news channels, and those that like Fox would agree with that statement more than those who don’t like Fox.

“honest” and “direct” — are words that can’t be done on U.S. TV news. As Jack Nicholson once told us, “You can’t handle the truth” and he’s right. Just look at the way we cover Israel and Palestine vs. the way every other country outside Israel covers the news from there.

“reactive” — is probably true, but U.S. TV news is less reactive than anywhere else on the globe. Well, maybe outside Russia, China, Cuba, etc.

“expert” — is relative. Too often, experts have their own undisclosed biases such as the retired generals who were on the networks leading up to the Iraq war, yet were being paid by Donald Rumsfeld and the Pentagon. Even after the scandal was disclosed, the process kept going with no apology to be found.

“undiluted” — can be subjective, but the U.S.-based news doesn’t even come close.

“fair” is something the U.S. TV news thinks they can do, but fail so miserably at doing.

“live” and “cutting-edge” — mostly true for all the channels, though MSNBC struggles with the “live” thing.

When U.S. TV news executives wonder why the ratings are free-falling for news, they can ask themselves of the words at the top of the page, how many of them apply to their newscasts. If you only get 3-4 of 14, people are getting their news from a more reliable news source.


Written by democracysoup

August 31, 2010 at 7:58 am

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