28 Aug 2009 [ Prev | Next ]

Broadcast Journalism

On Thursday, watch WTAE-TV "Channel 4 Action News" at 5, 6, or 11pm.

Keep a log of how the show uses its time.  (Theme music? Anchors chatting? Promotion of stories that are "coming up after the break"?) 
  • During a 30 minute TV news program, how much time is spent on actual news?
  • Of that actual news content, how much was created by the WTAE reporters here in the Pittsburgh area?
  • What is happening during the rest of the time?
  • Compare this WTAE job description with the characteristics of a "journalist" from The News Manual.
Here's  my log..

0:00 Campus Tragedy Tonight "The heartbreaking cirumstances surrounding a CMU student's death"
     "Four children... What police say they were *trying* to get away from."
     "The judges decision that shocked the pregnant defendant"
     HS football players"...facing punishment... accused" of a pellet gun assault "Will they be allowed to play?"
0:40 Breaking news -- footage from Penndot. Lanes were closed but are back open.
    (Dramatic footage, but how relevant to viewers, who are already at home?)  
0:50 Car plunge (no images, just a map... suspect at large "may have run" car "may have been involved" in a chase
1:15 The lead "Police looking into a report of a child luring happening on Orchard park Drive, if you know that area." [Fear child predators!]
1:45 "Tonight, a tragic story... student "is found dead" "police there calling it suicide"... tonight students "are grieving"
     "Slowly the news spreading..."
     Tara Edwards, live on the scene, summarizes what she might just as well have learned form the CMU website.
2:30 The best eyewitness they can get is a male witness, describing a roped-off stairway.
2:50 "Police finding a suicide note near the student's body."
     Immediately followed by unrelated quote from female student senate member, "I don't know..."
3:00 Summary of student and administrative programs, could have been read from a website.
     "Meanwhile those we spoke to having a hard time accepting what happened on their campus."
3:30 The male student almost says he could understand suicide during a stressful time
     But not the first week of school.
     [This was an excellent quote that conveyed the pressures students feel.]
4:00 Back in the studio -- the reporter wraps it up neatly, with warning signs of suicide, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
4:30 Reports on "a lot of unwanted attention" at CMU, and proceeds to list every such example.
5:00 Four young boys hitchiking... "What they did to get away, and why."
     John Griner, taped outside at night (but not live)
5:30 Cop; photo of child's back
     (Right of privacy of the sisters accused, tape of one closing a door in reporter's face.)
      Sisters have been charged, that means the cops think they're guilty.
7:20  "Some kind of punishment is looming..." for HS students (who can still play football)
      Police "may soon" discipline the kids.
8:00  Judge rejected plea deal that would  have prevented pregnant reckless driver from jail.
8:40  Steelers teaser
      Family "second chance up in flames" -- what the family admits they need
9:20  UPMC minute
10:20 Furniture ad
11:00 Sports intro
11:20 Steelers cuts "set for next week" (no actual cuts mentioned)
12:00 "that news coming up a little later on"
12:15 "Attacked with a hammer..."
      "Snatched from om a bus stop... now, she surfaces."
12:45 CCaptioning announcment
12:45 VW ad
      Furniture (Values for "the young, and the young at heart")
      (Candy-colored dorm furniture -- who brings a desk to college dorm?
15:00 "Two tractor-trailers tangling on I-70 in Washington County"
      Love the facial hair on on trucker "ticlked to death I didn't hurt anybody"
      Noone was hurt there
15:50 New e-mails from the woman accusing Rothlisberger of rape (QB "never bene charged")
16:30 "Single mother's fresh start reduced to ashes."
      The fire happened Wendesday morning, more than 24 hours before this report...
17:15 Teen found "delinquent" in hammer attack
      Noteworthy b/c the victim is speaking out... (good TV)
      17:40 Victim speakse
      17:50 The attacker "hasn't been in trouble since" [of course he's been under house arrest]
18:15 Woman kidnapped 18 years ago "is getting reacquainted with her mother" tonight
      [How do we know this is what they're doing?]
18:45 Ted Kennedy funeral view of casket that "arrived earlier today"
19:15 Weather "changes are on the way"
      "Can we get the back half of the weekend dry?"
22:20 WTAE day at Westmoreland fair, reporting on how much fun it is to meet "Channel 4 personalities"
23:00 Casino 2-for-1 buffet, "eager to see" how the Steelers game will affect the casino
23:40 Steeler injury list teaser
23:50 Lotto numbers [love that pulse-pounding music!]
24:25 Morning news promo (brief content)
24:30 Morning news promo (general emotional attachment)
25:00 Tire closeout
      JC Penney
      Outlet hot tubs
      WalMart will substitute for your parental love
27:45 Steelers -- we have no news about the cut list, but we're talking about it anyway.
28:30 That injury list we've been teasing? We covered it in exactly 15 seconds.
28:45 Eagles v Jacksonville
29:10 Pitt Panthers sports
29:35 Pirates
30:30 Anchor chatter
30:50 Weather -- now we'll finally tell you about the weekend
31:15 Joking anchor blames weatherman for weather
31:30 Promo and closing music

Categories: ,


Wendy Scott said:

After watching the news for thirty minutes I was like whoa what a bundle of everytbing. I watched thinking whats going on that is effecting me and the surroundings. Though realiazed that the overall veiws of the news were something that didn't relate to me or was a ton of commercials. The broadcasting feild is a hard and tough role to play what you say is heard across the nation. I became o recognize while watching that there was a repeat of information.
The stories that were spoke of I found intersting. They seem to be connecting stories, and relevant information that was going on in around the area. "I found the story of the 1991 kidnapping to be a interesting story. To think eighteen years have gone by." Though how many people would that effect around our area that we live in? The importance brought up a interveiw and led on for about four minutes.
I found it different at how closely I watchd it when after relativley three minutes it would jump right back to commercial as well.

Richelle Dodaro said:

After watching the WTAE news at 11, I noticed that most of the time was spent on actual news. There was about 10-12 minutes of commercials, which consisted of car companies, carpet companies, JC Penney, and WTAE itself. The news program started off with its theme music, and stated the top four stories of the night, which were a student's tragic death at CMU, children found on the side of the road, a pregnant woman causing police car chase, and high school football players facing punishment. This did strike my interest, which I'm sure it did with other viewers as well. This attention grabber is exactly what WTAE wants so that its viewers continue watching. For example, they did not run all these top stores one after the other. They were spread out and some came on after the commercials. Not only do I think that WTAE wants as many viewers to stay tuned as possible, but they also want its viewers to know about other news as well, which is spread throughout these top stories. After the first commercial break, the station announced sports news, which is good to keep sports fans watching, and also good for those who don't consider sports news because it was mentioned halfway through the program. The weather came after the sports, and I think WTAE's purpose for this is because people would overall rather be informed about the weather than sports, so WTAE knows this and wants people to keep the program on while they wait for the weather. There were about 5 stories that weren't created in Pittsburgh, which is good because people like to be informed about things beyond their local area. Overall, I think it was a successful news program because of how the stories and announcements were arranged, and because it was a day with abundant hard news.

As for the comparison between the WTAE job description and characteristics of a journalist, there were several similarities such as the job descriptions' requirement for a "creative reporter," which goes along with the journalist component of having a "love for language." These ideas differ slightly because a "creative reporter" is a bit broader than specifying language, as in the journalist's description. A difference I noticed was that in the WTAE job description, it stated a person was needed with the skills to announce and "plug in" issues that viewers will be affected by. Whereas in the journalist's characteristics, it states the person must have an "interest in the world around them." Here, it is a skills versus interest concept. You can have the skills to broadcast news, but you may not particularly have the sincere interest for it.

Tara Machovec said:

I felt an overwhelming sense of overcompensation after watching the news today. While there were some worth-while stories, crime, robbery, car accidents, etc., but the vast majority of the program involved banter, commercials, and local news that just could not peak my interest. To me, I would so much rather seek those events truly important through the internet or live updates of some sort instead of listening to conversations on chocolate covered bacon and things that I certainly do not care about. That's just the thing, I believe. There's not enough on these news channels worth caring about anymore. Yes, Ted Kennedy's funeral is important. Yes, some of the stories were intriguing, but as a whole... I felt slightly agitated and a bit more informed with events I feel I'll only speak of when making small-talk to acquaintances.

I feel like I've been finding this problem for a while though, not only on local, smaller news stations-- but on larger broadcasting companies. CNN, Fox, and the like, while they cover events of greater importance (politics, the war, economy, etc.) also have such utterly pointless segments such as "Brittany Watch" to the point where I feel I'm watching E.T. Overall, I'm finding the TV news a less and less appealing of a way to actually get the information that I'm looking for.

Cody Naylor said:

I will try not to bore you with some of the same sentiments that were shared earlier as I seem to be the last one to blog/comment on last night's news. I watched the eleven o'clock WTAE news. First of all, I am not sure why some people are surprised by how many or how little (however you want to look at it) commercials were shown because the network is required to show THE SAME amount of commercials (as far as time goes) everynight no matter what show is airing (unless Obama feels the need to address the state of the union). I was also saddened to see that the banter between the anchors was kept to a minimum. I truly believe that anchor-to-anchor jokes, quips, and comebacks can result in some of the most hilarious television ever. In a similar note, the news reported last night was surprisingly devoid of fluff such as this chocolate-covered bacon I keep hearing about from my fellow students. I guess the station figures that people who watch the news that late just want to see what is happening in their world and then go to bed. There were also very few national stories, with the Kennedy business seeming to take the spotlight in the station's nation-wide coverage. Don't get me wrong, local news is important for members of the community, but I always seem to find the national stories more appealing. I was also disappointed to see such a large amount of time devoted to the Steelers. While it was not a bad night for the news, I think I will stick to day-time news so I can enjoy the pithy dialogue between the anchors...

Jeanine O'Neal said:

Broadcast Journalism: Channel 4 is Masquerading as a News Station


Last night, the blogging system was not working on any of the 5 computers I tried or in any of the labs I tried. Here's my late attempt to get you so serious criticism of a pathetic newscast.

Katie Vann said:

WTAE news...more news than what I thought

Dianna Griffin said:

After watching last night's news program, which was called "Channel 4 Action News" but was actually on channel 3, I noticed that only about 16 minutes was dedicated to actual news. Part of that "news" was dedicated to sports as well. As much as I love football, I do not really consider the injury list for the Steelers game to be newsworthy. I feel that information such as that should be shown on a sports program. However, the story of Big Ben allegedly raping a woman is worth a few minutes of discussion.

To me, "Channel 4 Action News" is committed to showing tragedy and sports, or a mixture of both. These tragedies are what catch my interest in the news, therefore that is what makes news newsworthy. Also, the anchors on the show seem to think that they are comedians so it is entertaining to watch them as they are attempting to be funny.

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