What TV News Doesn’t Want You to Know & Edutainment

If you don’t stop by Shoptalk on occasion, you miss some real gems about the TV news business.
An article Wednesday by Brock London of Quazen.com revealed what most in the TV news business already know and regular viewers have a pretty good idea exists. I won’t list details but here are the “Ten Truths”.
1-The news anchors really don’t like each other all that much.
2-When writing or videotaping news coverage. emotion is more important than information.
3-Decisions on what to report are driven by artificial factors.
4-Reporters tell you what they think you want to hear, not what you need to know.
5-Adding live coverage to stories creates the false impression of importance or even crisis.
6-Reporters walk when they talk to avoid even a few seconds with no movement on screen.
7-When the anchor asks a reporter a question, it almost always has been prewritten.
8-Despite its constant use, very few events are worthy of being called “breaking” news.
9-Image consultants often select the haircuts, clothing and makeup worn by TV personalities.
10-Most of the story ideas and useful information appearing in local newscasts has been been “borrowed” from newspapers or news magazines.

Again, for the most part, this list is nothing new to those in the business. I’m sure there are those who will dispute some or all of these points but the truth of the matter is, a lot of these ring true. Granted there are exceptions to the rule. I know of anchors who form close friendships over the years and it shows on air. Other times it’s like oil and water and that shows on air as well. As for story content, consultants will tell you “sell the sizzle, not the steak”. Just remember to keep the fires burning hot.
Shifting gears, I heard a new phrase last night. “Edu-tainment”. That word was used to describe the Crocodile Hunter and his genre of television. The question was raised on whether edu-tainment is putting the lives of people at risk as they get up close and personal with various creatures and nature in general. Admit it, viewers have been waiting to see if the Crocodile guy and his imitators would get tagged by the black Mamba snake or if the guy on National Geographic is going to fall into the volcano. I guess if something bad happens we can always say, “Hey, I won’t grab a poisonous snake by the tail today”. See, we can learn something from TV.

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5 Comments on “What TV News Doesn’t Want You to Know & Edutainment”

  1. Anonymous Says:


    Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who
    has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was
    since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape.

    He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as
    knowing when to come in out of the rain, why the early bird gets the
    life isn’t always fair, and maybe it was my fault.
    Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don’t spend
    more than you earn) and reliable parenting strategies (adults, not
    are in charge).

    His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well intentioned but
    overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a six-year- old
    boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens
    suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher
    fired for
    reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

    Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the
    job they themselves failed to do in disciplining their unruly children.

    It declined even further when schools were required to get parental
    consent to administer aspirin, sun lotion or a Band Aid to a student –
    but could not inform the parents when a student became pregnant and wanted
    to have an abortion.

    Common Sense lost the will to live as the Ten Commandments became
    contraband, churches became businesses, and criminals received better
    treatment than their victims.

    Common Sense took a beating when you couldn’t defend yourself from a
    burglar in your own home and the burglar could now sue you for assault.

    Common Sense finally gave up the will to live after a woman failed to
    realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in
    her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

    Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents, Truth and Trust;
    his wife, Discretion; his daughter, Responsibility; and his son, Reason.

    He is survived by three stepbrothers; I Know My Rights, Someone Else
    is to Blame, and I’m A Victim.
    Not many attended his funeral be cause so few realized he was gone.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Hi Joe!
    By now you have viewed the segment where a reporter for Fox 6 gets beaten pretty bad. I’m not so sure this story should have been given so much exposure. Things like this seem to have copy cat follow ups.
    I remember years ago when Larry Enis evidently ran out of questions regarding the Rex Dockery plane crash and asked a final question of one of Dockery’s very upset assistants: “How do you feel about this tragedy?” (I thought the guy was going to clean Larrys’ clock!) The assistant replied understandably: “How the hell do you think I feel, idiot!”
    Then we have Andy Wise going after John Ford and identity theft crooks on camera. Glad he carries a Berretta 92.
    Any viewpoint perspective on this latest incident?………..JD

  3. Joe Larkins Says:

    On the attack on the Fox 6 news crew in San Diego, I’m really not that surprised. With the “in your face” coverage that some TV crews managed to pull off, I think it’s just a matter of time before someone pulls out a handgun and blows a reporter away. Yes, I know that this couple alledgedly attacked the news crew while they were interviewing or attempting to interview an alledged victim and at this point the attack appears to be premeditated. I just think there are enough whackos out there (on both sides of the camera) and that one of these days the scene will be set where a bold news crew will go after someone who is on the edge anyway and then we will see things get really ugly.
    I think to some degreee it is like reporters standing out in a hurricane. After a flying piece of debris impales some person on camera, stations will stop encouraging reporters to stand in the wind. The same thing about chasing people down to put a microphone in the face. When someone gets killed doing that, news crews will then start backing off. I think so far it’s been a game of
    Russian Roulette and it’s a matter of not if, but when. Some news crews may carry firearms with them but unless they have it with them and ready to use, they will be toast. I hope I never see it but I’m afraid that’s where we’re headed.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    Did you see the police pursuit, car-jacking and subsequent beat-down on WMC Thursday? Was it news, edutainment or something else?

  5. Anonymous Says:

    The car chase was true breaking news! how amazing was that? i know the other stations were dying as they watched it on 5. we may be having issues but that was a great day! kudos to all there. that’s two exclusive chases in a row. just wish we’d burn that into the video.

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