Very disappointed with today’s news coverage

"If it bleeds, it leads." Maybe there's some connection between this and why turnout was disappointingly low in the special election for Senate. - promoted by david

I turned on the noon news today on WCVB channel 5 and must say I am not a fan of what they prioritize as news.  They had wall-to-wall coverage of the arrest of Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez in connection with the death of one Odin Lloyd (whose death has been ruled a homicide, but it was not clear exactly what crime Hernandez will be charged with) and his pending arragnment.  This coverage started by breaking into programming before noon and continued past the usual 12:30 end time so I had to turn to WMUR channel 9 to see Who Wants to be a Millionaire?  There was a lot of watching and waiting with “live team coverage” (helicopters included), but not a lot of actual news on that story.

It’s not like today was a slow news day.  Since yesterday’s noon news the President gave a major address on climate policy, the Supreme Court spoke on two highly anticipated marriage equality cases, and the US Senate special election concluded with a victory for Ed Markey.  All of these things will have a much greater impact on most of our lives than the arrest of a football player, yet there was I think a 60-second passing report on SCOTUS and nothing at all about the Senate race or the President’s speech.  There was also the standard 5-minute weather report.  Does anyone know if other stations similarly prioritized their coverage?  It seems the Hernandez story is the one to get the passing reference or update.  Maybe channel 5 could schedule a special edition of Patriots All Access for those who are really interested.  However, news IMO is supposed to be about things that actually matter.


25 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Another media fail

    I was listening to the CBS Evening News simulcast on WBZ Radio tonight and they were talking about the marriage decisions. The only religious voices quoted in reaction were the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Southern Baptist Convention, once again leaving the impression that Christianity is generally opposed to marriage equality. Here is a page contain quotes from diverse sources, mostly religious including Jews, Muslims, and progressive Christian denominations.

    • Media reports the majority view

      The Roman Catholic church, with a 2010 self-identified membership in the United States of 78.2 M, is the nation’s largest single religious institution. The Southern Baptist Convention has long been the nation’s largest Protestant denomination.

      For better or worse, it is perfectly reasonable for a media outlet seeking a representative reaction to seek quotes from the two sources you cite. There are surely Pew foundation statistics about the view of Christians on marriage equality (I don’t have time to find them right now) — I strongly suspect that those statistics will show that a majority and perhaps even an overwhelming majority of US Christians oppose marriage equality.

      It is great that some Christian faith traditions are promoting marriage equality. It is likely, in my opinion, that those are best understood as the collective prophetic voice of a faithful minority of US Christians.

      • Not so clear

        that support for DOMA is any kind of majority view at this point, even among “Christians.” If someone asked me, I’d probably self-identify as Catholic myself out of tradition, habit, etc., even though I don’t go to Mass anymore and I don’t agree with O’Malley & Co. on any of these issues. I highly doubt there are 78.2 million Catholic Americans who actually practice and support DOMA. I know my father, dragged to church by his girlfriend every week, stands for equality and firmly against DOMA.

        By the way, O’Malley has ordered St. Cecilia’s not to have on church property an Austrian priest who supports eliminating celibacy for priests and allowing them to marry. He’ll be speaking at a UU church instead. Every time I see O’Malley’s name in the paper, it’s for something exclusionary and heavy-handed. It will be a long time before I set foot in a Catholic church again, but I’d still tell a survey “Catholic.”

      • A large percentage of the Roman

        Catholic church members (54%, according to Pew)agree with marriage equality. The church hierarchy isn’t elected by the congregation, which doesn’t tend to listen to or necessarily agree with church teachings. It speaks to, but doesn’t speak for American Catholics.

        I agree with Christopher. Where were the quotes from the Episcopal Church hierarchy, for example, which had a gay, married bishop? That’s one of the older churches in the United States. Mainline protestants support marriage equality by 55%. Even evangelicals, whose support is low, now support marriage quality by 10% more than they did in 2001.

        What happens in most news stories is that reporters call particular sources to get particular quotes to fill in particular blanks. That’s what happened here.

      • I still think...

        …they should have had ONE quote to show that Christians aren’t unanimous on this. I doubt a majority of the nation would be OK with marriage equality if a majority of Christians, comprising 70-80% of the total population, opposed it. Besides, the United Church of Christ includes most of the nation’s Congregationalists who are the spiritual descendants of the Pilgrims and Puritans who the Right likes to cite as proof we were founded as a Christian nation. To be fair, like other denominations not all UCCers agree with their leadership either.

        • I'm not saying I agree with the quote choice

          I agree that other Christian viewpoints exist. I’m saying only that, like it or not, the two sources cited are reasonable choices for a reporter under deadline.

          The fact is that Episcopal church represents a vanishingly small slice of the US population — as does the UCC or, for that matter, the combined total of who describe themselves as “Jewish”.

  2. First person plural

    I’m often amused when I hear one of our local sports franchises referred to with first person plural pronouns, as in “We lost to Chicago.” That’s indicative of an almost personal identification with these businesses — a personal identification promoted, in part, by television. So when something happens to someone in the athletic department of one of these businesses, it’s not surprising that a segment of our population wants to know and see every detail.

  3. Some thoughts

    At this point I am confident a majority of American Catholics agree with the decision and marriage equality in general. To me, those that feel the government defines the sanctity if marriage, bishops included, don’t really get the theology of the Church that civil marriage and sacramental marriage are entirely different. On the Times front page and they showed men in clerical collars embracing other men. I long ago came to the realization that God doesn’t care.

  4. recently...

    …Colbert played “where in the world is Edward Snow-diego”. Would have been very funny if it weren’t so very sad.

    All of these things will have a much greater impact on most of our lives than the arrest of a football player, yet there was I think a 60-second passing report on SCOTUS and nothing at all about the Senate race or the President’s speech

    My boys are home from school for the summer now. In the morning, as I’m readying for work they’ll often watch CNN… I can’t help feeling I’ve failed them somehow, though they know I’ll go postal if they put on Fox… Anyways, the other day at about six in the morning, prime morning news time, CNN actually had about two, maybe even three, minutes of completely journalism-free compilation of tweets, youtube, b-roll and various other “content” that was barely about Snowdens flight from Hong Kong to who knows where: they rolled up some old footage of Cary Grant from a “North by Northwest” trailer and swizzled in a bunch of other peoples speculation. I was appalled. Now, I’m an intellectual snob, to be sure, and it doesn’t take much to make me appalled but this was such a least-effort attempt that I feel certain they bluntly violated any and all FCC charters…

  5. A couple of standard deviations to the left

    Chris, has it occurred to you that the news desk editors at WCVB better reflect the issues that are interesting (i.e., important) to its viewership? BMG’s readership, compared to metro Boston’s TV audience, is significantly different (farther left, of course.)

    This is not to exalt the sensationalizing of a murder investigation, only to suggest that the ENTIRE climate change topic is pretty far down the list of important issues.

    • Except when it's too late

      The very fact that the “ENTIRE climate change topic is pretty far down the list” demonstrates the point christopher is making.

      The media refuses to report the reality of climate science. The media refuses to report the reality about climate change deniers. The media reports ninety degree days in March as “beautiful weather”. The media reports on the devastation of storms like Sandy, while being largely silent about the many ways our actions intensify those events.

      If the media can make second-rate amateurs, untalented “celebrities”, or pictures of our favorite pets “interesting”, then the media can surely do the same with climate change.

      • Poll after poll

        climate change is nowhere near the top. It isn’t a priority for most people. Job prospects, job retention, economic growth, increasing cost of living…they crowd out potential environmental problems predicted for 2030. The fact that 70% of likely voters polled want the XL pipeline built should give you a clue to what’s important to America.

        Apparently, the public does not believe AGW is the crisis some make it out to be.

        • From one point of view, that's beside the point

          We might imagine that news shows should feature that which Americans most want to see, and the government should focus on issues that poll high for importance.

          By an older standard, shared across the political spectrum 50 years ago, the news media are supposed to focus on what’s important even if boring or distasteful, and the people in government are supposed to be thoroughly ethical and expert and do the right thing whether popular or not.

          The Iraq fiasco comes to mind here. The invasion of Iraq was very popular when it was launched. The popularity of the invasion made many of liberals feel lonely and sad. However, the failure of that policy, the consequences of doing the wrong but popular thing eventually demolished the Republican Party’s lead over the Democrats on national security.

          So popular isn’t always right and it isn’t always popular. It is not impossible for climate calamity to shunt the Republican Party into a richly deserved marginalization.

          • Not disagreeing

            with “popular isn’t always right” sentiment, but it’s besides the point. That’s a political calculation but not how stories get on to the evening news.

            Why would a restaurant offer anything that’s not popular but is good for you? Diners want 650 calorie Big Macs, not steamed kale.

        • On something like this...

          …it’s the media’s job to drive the issue to the top. They should be boldly saying, “You should care about this issue for these reasons” especially when the reasons include a looming drastic change in how the world works.

    • Perhaps the most foolish thing

      I’ve ever seen written here.

      the ENTIRE climate change topic is pretty far down the list of important issues

      Whether the Massachusetts coastline is severely eroded in the next century, and whether the federal government has to deal with relocating virtually all of South Florida, is less important than showing an hour of a helicopter hovering over the North Attleboro house of a thug who happened to be a tight end for the Patriots? I would think, with so little for viewers actually to see at Hernandez’s house, that WCVB could find a way to cover that story AND the climate speech, and the momentous Supreme Court decisions, and the small matter of a U.S. Senate election.

      Saying they got it right is like saying, in 1938, that the media should have ignored a major Presidential address on developments in Europe in favor of nonstop coverage of nothing happening at Sammy Baugh’s house (“John, we’ve just received word that a shadow has moved past the center living room window. Someone — our sources suggest a man of medium height — is walking in that room right now.”).

      Just because it’s not sufficiently on people’s radar (largely because of the media) does not mean it’s not important. And the issue is importance, not right vs. left. That you perceive the issue as being only of interest to “the left” only shows how divorced from reality the right, and the millions who are totally disengaged from public issues, have become.

      • Didn't say

        that I “perceive the issue as being only of interest to ‘the left.’” I only said it’s not an important issue for most of America right now.

        YOU may think it’s the most important issue in the history of mankind, an emergency, impending doom. And it may be! Who can say? For whatever reason, though, justified or not, you’re in a minority.

        For what it’s worth, even while stipulating that AGW is an immediate crisis, it’s the totalitarian communications approach warmists have deployed that turns people off. A guy walks into a room and says he’s skeptical, and you immediately tarnish him as a “climate change denier,” with all the Holocaust connotations that drags along with it. It doesn’t help that some commentators have suggested “deniers” should be imprisoned, or charged with treason.

        You blame political foot-dragging, filibusters, Republicans, and George Bush, but there isn’t a political consensus that the issue is real and immediate let alone that we caused it and can fix it.

        And for such a politically astute group — progressives and liberals — you’ve done a terrible job selling the urgency. You’ve not built that consensus. You’ve harangued, and lectured, and impugned the character of those who disagree to such an extent too few people are listening to you. The science doesn’t matter at this point, because you’ve mostly turned people off to the message.

        Don’t blame the media. If they started to report on AGW with the ferocity and frequency you think appropriate, viewers would bail to cable and Roku.

        • I should ignore this, but ...

          “warmists”? “Totalitarian communications approach”?

          Suppose radar shows Russian or Chinese satellites demonstrating the ability to shoot nuclear-capable missiles, and from an orbit that puts every city North America within range.

          Professionals working for the Defense Department report this fact (and it IS a plain fact). Other professionals throughout the world confirm the findings. Meanwhile, a handful of propagandists and media people who have long been in the employ of Russian and Chinese propaganda ministries announce that the radar is wrong. The professionals are lying. Radar doesn’t work, after all. The radar images are faked. The alleged satellites are actually natural phenomena. You get my drift.

          Is it a “totalitarian communications approach” to immediately dismiss the deniers? When the evidence supporting the reports of these threatening satellites has been confirmed over and over, and when the history and cash flow supporting the deniers has been shown over and over, is it reasonable to call them anything BUT deniers?

          Is it wrong for the professionals closest to the data and science, who are most able to evaluate the impact of what they are seeing, to emphasize the urgency of what they have found?

          A key point in this silly analogy is that to be truly apt, the “satellite threat deniers” would have to own the media and own the GOP.

          It isn’t the job of scientists to sell the urgency. It isn’t the job of political parties to sell the urgency of science. It is, instead, the job of government officials to pay attention to science and accordingly. It is the job of the media to report the science — and when there is ZERO credible challenge to that science, to ignore its challengers. Whether a crazy is alleging that 2+2=5, the Earth is actually flat, the Earth is actually 6,000 years old, or climate change is a hoax, that crazy is still a crazy and the media massively fails when it gives any credence whatsoever to the rantings of that crazy.

          You demonstrate yet another GOP/Tea Party tactic — do all in your power to obstruct and sabotage ANY progress on a particular issue, then accuse reasonable people of being “partisan” or “ineffective” because so little progress has been made.

          Climate change isn’t about what you or Rush Limbaugh or Barack Obama or I “think”. Climate change is happening, whether we admit it or not. Not only is it happening, it is happening faster than predicted and in more extreme ways than predicted — precisely because climate scientists are, like all good scientists, conservative in their predictions.

          When you look at the volume of methane that will be released by the melting permafrost of the Arctic regions, the rising sea levels that will accompany the rapid melting of the Greenland ice sheet, the devastating drought that will grip the Himalayan watershed and the Southeast US, if you don’t sense both the reality and urgency of all that, then it is appropriate to call you a “denier” — “with all the Holocaust connotations that drags along with it”.

        • To be fair, yes

          Climate Change and its perils have not been explained very well by the left.

          Some of that is structural: Unlike, say, France or Germany, the main political vehicle of the left is a party that is majority moderate and so it is very difficult to get a coherent message out.

          Some of it is historical: Scientists outside the social sciences think people are convinced by pure rational discussion.

          • kbusch...

            thanks, I think you get my point. Tom falls into the trap of mistaking the science with political consensus….after calling skeptics deniers. QED.

            I’ve often thought that there could be very broad political appeal making a national security argument for carbon reduction…stop sending money to oil-exporting, terrorist-supporting counties, etc.

            Another missed opportunity — getting behind the expanded use of natural gas as a transportation fuel and as a replacement for coal-powered electricity generation (happening on economics alone, without government interference.) It’s not utopia, but natural gas produces 50% less CO2 than coal (unsure how it compares in auto emissions.) Wouldn’t that get to Kyoto standards without any heavy lifting?

        • Well, YES!

          The consensus on this issue is just shy of absolutely unanimous among those who study this for a living, so yes anybody who denies the the overwhelming evidence is treading dangerously close to Holocaust denial IMO.

        • There is a scientific consensus

          You blame political foot-dragging, filibusters, Republicans, and George Bush, but there isn’t a political consensus that the issue is real and immediate let alone that we caused it and can fix it.

          If there is not “a political consensus,” it only because one party is in so thick with oil and gas, and is so mind-bogglingly, irresponsibly opposed to the very idea of science that it continues to advance an untenable position.

          If the GOP decided tomorrow that Massachusetts and Vermont didn’t exist because they can’t win elections here often enough, it wouldn’t make it true. Nor would it make the lack of “political consensus” a justification for failure to cover the story if the House declined to appropriate any federal money whatsoever for projects in those states.

    • My argument...

      …is that news is intended to inform, not entertain. Plus I’m not suggesting that the Hernandez case isn’t news at all, but certainly not worthy of the entire half-hour-plus when there is other stuff going on. Besides, I can’t imagine several minutes of telling viewers we really have nothing to report right now being interesting to anybody.

  6. Hernandez is blowing everything out of the water

    The Hernandez story is a whale. There’s just no getting around it. Imagine playing poker where everyone has $1000 in front of them and in walks some guy and plops $1 million on the table.

    That’s what the Hernandez story is doing to the local media menu which is full of delectable, historic and substantial story bites.

    The Bulger story lays bare 50 years of Boston history, inside politics and corruption. It’s ego, it’s territory, revenge and horrific murder. It reminds us, by the Tweet on a daily basis, why government and authority must be viewed with skepticism. Maybe we are still waiting for a blockbuster shoe to drop, but that’s because we’ve heard so much that stinks on this story for the past 15 years.

    The Supreme Court’s DOMA decision will be the one that lands a chapter in the history books. We’ll look at marriage equality in terms of before and after Thursday’s decision for years to come. My bet is that this week’s opinion is preliminary to an eventual ruling that any state’s prohibition of gay marriage is unconstitutional.

    We just had a Senate election that was hardly discussed past coffee break on Wednesday .The ice melst at the Garden in the aftermath of a Stanely Cup also ran, and Celtics team was just nuked the core; there’s a tax hike in the state; immigration reform in Washington and climate change falling outside your window.

    Hernandez blows it all away.

    What can you do about it? It’s like forgetting there was an eclipse after you hunkered through a hurricane.

    • Who cares?

      A gang-banger is good at football, but can’t help getting involved in stupid situations. I don’t see what’s interesting, and I’m a Patriots fan.

      Your comment just assumes the premise it’s trying to establish: that the Hernandez story automatically eclipses all other stories. It states what is happening in the media with no real explanation of why it’s happening or, more importantly, why it should be happening.

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Wed 29 Mar 6:51 PM