Electronic Magazines: Soft News Programs on Network Television

By William C. Spragens | Go to book overview

Chapter Ten
"Tabloids" versus Magazine Programs: Networks' Role as Standard Setters

Later in this chapter, an assessment will be made of television network magazine programming as it exists in the mid-1990s. However, a brief discussion will follow about the distinction between electronic magazines and their "tabloid" competitors. Some of the discussion reflects a dialog between the author and Andrew Heyward of CBS News, previously executive producer of Eye to Eye with Connie Chung and now executive producer of The CBS Evening News." Some of the conclusions reflect the author's overview of the content analysis and ratings examination covered in preceding chapters.

Mr. Heyward, who also formerly produced 48 Hours," found a clear distinction between network magazines and the kinds of tabloids produced by syndicates. He commented:

There are superficial similarities between "tabloid" syndicated shows and network magazine productions, as similar subjects are dealt with on both. However, there is a fundamental difference in the first principles of these shows. The networks must, like the syndicated shows, satisfy the public appetite, and they are also subject to profit maximization. But unlike the syndicated tabloid shows which must stand or fall only on the ratings, the networks combine the profit-making necessity with a standardsetting goal; they must set a standard for public service while making a profit and staying competitive.

We must determine whether a story belongs on Eye to Eye." Some of the competing newsmagazines went overboard on the stories about the

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