There was always a notion in the past of putting out information that people need to know. Now the entire industry is driven by providing what people want to hear and see. And that gives you more Michael Jackson than Social Security. That gives you Chandra Levy and Gary Condit, not local government. That gives you Laci Peterson and not how to fix our schools. The latter are all (more) boring, visually, than the celebrity stories, but they are infinitely more important.
But if we bore the viewer or the listener, they’ll turn the dial, and so we collectively look for ways to keep them tuned in, and that means a loss of some of the … “elite” coverage that I think is our real purpose in this business — this business of journalism, not this business of broadcasting, which people think are the same, and are not. There are too many broadcasters — i.e. show business — and not enough journalists. End of diatribe. —Pat Kreitlow —Signing off, looking back: Kreitlow reflects on nearly two decades of broadcast journalism (UWEC | Leader-Telegram)
From an interview with the former local TV news anchor in Eau Claire, where I used to live.
Found via the blog of a former student, who blogs as Anniepookins.
My news writing students know I’m not too keen on TV news, but there are many good TV journalists who would love to do the community-serving, local government and solution-oriented stories that they themselves value. But if the story has no visuals, the audience doesn’t stick around.
By the way, Kreitlow now has a blog. It’s funny… now that I’ve spent some time reading his personal thoughts, even his humor blog, I find myself oddly missing the Channel 13 newscasts from Eau Claire. This guy is a good writer — something that never really occurred to me when I watched him on TV. If he had been blogging when I was still in Eau Claire, I probably would have watched him more.
Well, here’s to your post-TV career, Mr. Kreitlow, whatever that turns out to be.