Magazine article The Masthead

It's Gloves off for Broadcast Laggards

Magazine article The Masthead

It's Gloves off for Broadcast Laggards

Article excerpt

This, dear colleagues, is old news. A quick scan of the good ol' NCEW Membership Directory is enough to confirm the appalling state of broadcast editorializing in this country.

As David Spiceland, associate professor in the school of communications at Appalachian State University, showed in his nationwide survey of broadcasters (reported in the Winter 1998 Masthead), television stations cite everything from "no indication viewers would value it," to "do not believe public cares what our editorial opinions are" as justification for not airing editorials.

As recently as last June the national broadcast journal Electronic Media editorialized on "the vanishing TV editorial." It urged stations, especially the ever-growing number owned by out-of-town media groups, to "demonstrate their new, but real interest in the community by taking the bold approach of trying to lead, through editorials."

But appeals to show leadership seem to be falling on deaf ears - or at least deaf pocketbooks - de- spite widespread acknowledgment that local news and information is a local station's chief franchise. Management seems unable to connect sound business practice, community leadership, and authentic journalism with the responsibility to offer opinion.

So I hereby suggest a different tack.

I ask my print colleagues to browbeat the broadcast laggards until they see the light.

Challenge their self-serving claims of "Being There For You" or "Your Source For News" by pointing out that the lack of courage of one's convictions is a pretty big blemish on a broadcast station's pretty community service face. …

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