According to this article which appeared in the Los Angeles Times (via BoingBoing), researchers found that the average LA TV newscast offers a mere 22 seconds of local government news coverage every 30 minutes. According to the article this is in violation of FCC regulations/mandates.
Now, I don’t typically watch the local news. It’s not because I’m uninterested–as many of you know that couldn’t be further from the truth–it’s simply because the majority of what’s show on TV news here is absolutely terrible to watch. But, being the crazy person I am I decided to sit down in front of WCCO at 10 PM last night to see what they do in an attempt to meet their mandate and cover local government news. While this is far from scientific (or fair), when I have seen TV news WCCO seemed to be, by far, the most coherent and worthwhile group and because of that it’s the reason I chose to watch them tonight. So I sat down to watch the 10 PM WCCO newscast, arguably one of the two more important newscasts of the day and mostly because Jason DeRusha does his Good Question segment during this portion of the day’s news.
Anyway, with a handy spreadsheet created and a clock with seconds ticking away I did my best to track WCCO’s 3/17/2010 10 PM newscast as best I could. Unfortunately I somehow lost 58 seconds of tracking so you’ll just have to take my word for it when I say they didn’t seem to meet the FCC’s mandate on local government coverage as it wasn’t mentioned at all, not one second:
Now, obviously this was just one newscast out of many and only one station but if these stations were really supposed to be covering local government happenings why wouldn’t they have given at least 15 seconds to it? I mean, they didn’t even try! While I don’t know the definition used by the USC researches referenced in the LA Times article, I simply figured that anything talking about government and which didn’t fit into the topics I show above, would be good enough. Pretty loose definition and one that should have been easily met, right?
So, what do you think about this? Do you believe that TV news has jumped the shark? Are you a local TV news fan? If so which station(s) do you prefer to get your news from? If it weren’t a FCC mandate would you rather see more fluff or more local government news? Whatever you have to say about my completely worthless and unscientific recreation of what other researchers did and reported to the FCC go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear what you have to say.