Magazine article The Quill

SPJ News Commentary: Think 'News Value' When Considering Coverage

Magazine article The Quill

SPJ News Commentary: Think 'News Value' When Considering Coverage

Article excerpt

Judging from coverage of the Democratic National Convention so far, it appears that news values may be the big loser in this election season.

While acknowledging that there's not a lot of tension or excitement in either of these major-party conventions, several key members of the SPJ Ethics Committee issued a statement saying they'd still like to see the media take their responsibilities more seriously.

The statement from Ethics Committee Co-Chairs Gary Hill and Fred Brown follows:

Television networks are spending fewer hours than ever covering the events. There wasn't even the usual perfunctory hour during prime time Tuesday.

Some cable outlets, to their credit, provide gavel-to-gavel coverage, but sometimes the intent seems to be to provoke news rather than cover it. In fact, too many in all news media seem to be trying to inject controversy and celebrity into what otherwise would be an all too predictable and choreographed event.

Here's just a sample of how the media have been making their own versions of the news - instead of reporting what they find there - so far in this convention.

* Conservative celebrity Ann Coulter tried to emulate Molly Ivins, but then was canceled by USA Today because her first column about what she called the "Spawn of Satan convention" was "unfunny." (The newspaper also has signed up liberal firebrand Michael Moore to write from the Republican convention.)

* Television dwelt on Teresa Heinz Kerry's "shove it" directive to an editorial writer for a conservative Pittsburgh newspaper, but then the networks ignored her speech to the convention. …

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