Saturday, July 2, 2011

Nightly News Wastes Our Time. Again.

Do you ever wonder how much valuable news time Nightly News wastes each week on pointless, irrelevant stories with no news value--stories that don't belong on a news broadcast? News isn't supposed to make you feel good or inspire you or uplift you. It's supposed to inform you about the important events going on across the country and around the world. It's really a shame that Brian constantly chooses to air stories that will boost his ratings instead of stories with legitimate news value. There's a big difference. Here's the breakdown for how much time Brian and his producers wasted this past week:

Saturday 6/25: We were treated to a 2:15 story about people travelling to Joplin, Missouri to adopt pets left homeless by the recent tornado. How does this qualify as news? It doesn't. Total time wasted: 2:15.
Sunday 6/26: A 2:40 story about the Casey Anthony trial is virtually identical to the story they ran a day earlier. It contained no new footage or information--it was just a way to promote coverage of the trial on The Today Show. Then Lester Holt took 25 seconds to show us footage of a shark jumping over a surfer. And we saw a 2:25 "Making A Difference" story about a California group that helps military veterans deal with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. This is not news. Total time wasted: 5:30.
Monday 6/27: We were shown a 2:50 MAD story about a Tennessee woman who helps a Vietnamese orphanage. Zero news value. Total time wasted: 2:50.
Tuesday 6/28: Nightly News wasted 3:40 on a "debate" about whether or not we need such a high level of security at our airports. This "news story" contained no new information. It was just talking heads yapping back and forth. This is not news. We then got a combined 1:40 on the Pope using an iPad to send his first tweet; a Cirque du Soleil performer throwing out the first pitch at a Padres game; and a new baby koala at a Sydney wildlife park. Wow, that's some urgent stuff. Finally, another insipid MAD story--this time it was 2:20 on a Brooklyn group that helps girls acquire self-esteem through running. Newsworthy? Absolutely not. Total time wasted: 7:40.
Wednesday 6/29: Brian and his producers wasted a combined 2:30 on three stories: Turtles on a runway at JFK airport; new old photos of Paul McCartney and The Beatles; and an obituary for the inventor of the Weed Eater. Important news. Then we were treated to yet another pointless MAD story. This one (2:20) was about a group in Massachusetts that creates gardens for cancer patients. In what alternate universe does this belong on a news broadcast? Total time wasted: 4:50.
Thursday 6/30: Yet again, Nightly News aired a report on homeless veterans (2:35). They do the exact same story five or six times a year. This isn't news, it's just another emotional sob story meant to increase the ratings. Then Brian spent a combined 2:30 telling us about the high cost of colleges (there's breaking news for you), a scorpion on a plane, an award won by Richard Engel and the retirement of the NBC News Chief Photographer. Finally, they wasted another 2:20 documenting Will & Kate's trip to Canada. Total time wasted: 7:25.
Friday 7/1: We were forced to watch an appalling 8:55 on Dominique Strauss-Kahn. That's five minutes more than the story deserved. Another thirty-five seconds on Will & Kate in Canada. Then a 2:40 MAD story about a man who helps hearing-impaired kids by building hearing aids for them. Nice thing to do--but it doesn't deserve air time on a network newscast. Total time wasted (including the five unnecessary minutes on DSK): 8:15.

So how much total time did Nightly News waste this week? An astounding 38 minutes and 45 seconds. That is unbelievable. A Nightly News broadcast is only 22 minutes long (when you factor out the commercials). So a week's worth of broadcasts runs 154 minutes. The 38:45 they wasted represents 25% of the entire week's content. A quarter of everything Brian and his producers put on the air this past week had absolutely no news value! Can you imagine how many legitimate news stories they could have covered in 38:45? It boggles the mind. For example, here's a story Brian could have reported: According to Thursday's New York Times, "General Mills is forecasting weaker earnings for the year than Wall Street expected because of higher ingredient and fuel costs." Of course, there's no chance that Brian would air that story. General Mills products account for a big chunk of Nightly News's (and NBC's) advertising dollars. Here are some of General Mills's products and brands: Cheerios, Total, Lucky Charms, Wheaties, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Haagen-Dazs, Green Giant, Old El Paso, Bugles, Hamburger Helper, Progresso and Yoplait. Do you really think that Brian would report bad news about one of his broadcast's BCP (Best Corporate Partners)? Not when there are more important stories to report--like turtles on a runway, scorpions on a plane, a baby koala, the Pope's tweets or Will & Kate.

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