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Join TSPR for a weekly conversation about media issues. News Director Rich Egger and expert panelists discuss what’s in the news about the news business.

Giving Audiences What They Want (Instead of What They Need)

The Washington Post recently reported on how ABC World News Tonight became the ratings champion. The Post's media reporter Paul Farhi wrote the newscast is brighter, tighter, and lighter with shorter stories and an emphasis on entertainment, crime, weather, and hot YouTube videos.

Farhi also pointed out ABC’s nightly network newscast no longer has a full-time correspondent covering Congress, a fact that left Shop Talk panelist Rich Egger dumbfounded. 

Egger added the trend of emphasizing fluff over substance has been developing for decades.  He wondered whether we’ve bottomed out yet or if there is still room for the quality of network news to fall further.

Panelist Rich Moreno is also bothered by ABC’s decision.  And he also said the trend has been developing through a long period of time.  He said journalists should work on meaningful stories to inform the citizens of a democracy – but that’s not happening.

Moreno is also concerned about the shorter length of stories.  He said it’s difficult to tell a complicated story in just 90 seconds.

Panelist Jasmine Crighton said nothing surprises her anymore when it comes to money.  And she said the direction ABC is taking is purely based on money – drawing more viewers so the network can charge more for commercials.

Crighton also pointed out ABC is not alone in emphasizing fluff over substance. She said part of the problem is the shrinking size of news department staffs.

Rich is TSPR's News Director.