HOWTO: Fix Cable Newscasts

I’m going to attempt to not watch any television news today. The slight iota that events change hour to hour does not merit me seeing the ‘panic crawl’ – the scrolling headlines at the bottom of the screen. They’d switched to the CNN International newsfeed and it was interesting to note how much quieter the screen layout was. For CNN USA you have the scroller at the bottom going right to left, you have a CNN logo ‘shining’ every few seconds, you have a background behind the entire thing that is usually a revolving globe and sometimes under the byline of the anchor there’s another scrolling background – and then if you are watching the Situation Room, they futz with the camera on their big screen setup like you’re watching NYPD Blue. I did think it was funny yesterday with Blitzer in Israel and Cooper in London that the DC studio is empty but they still have to have a camera operator in the DC studio to shoot the big screens set that that is then composed of six other feeds from other studios. I hadn’t really analyzed how kinetic the layout is.
My idea for the news is that there’s no anchors. Everything story or angle is told strictly in the voice of a witness or subject. It removes the extra layer of filter of an expert journalist and shows us history happening to real people. No theme songs. Spare, minimalist. No commercials. No graphics. Oh and every time they talk about legislation they flash the relevant phone numbers of the congressmen up on the screen so you can call and complain or rave. And whenever they have guest experts they have to put how much money they are being paid for their appearance underneath their byline. The architects of the constitution knew that free access to information was crucial for a democracy – keeping an informed populace – ergo free press. I think they’d be sad to see the state of American journalism today.
I think most people – whether they identify as conservative, liberal or in-between – would say they don’t feel like they are getting the full picture of their world from American journalism.






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