Lack of Diversity at the NewsHour?
Conservatives love to tag PBS with a liberal label, arguing that shows such as Frontline and NOW play up left wing themes at the expense of those on the GOP side of life.
But a prominient liberal media criticism group has accused PBS' weekday newscast, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, of the exact opposite behavior -- favoring corporate interests, white males and Republicans among the guests featured in its coverage.
Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting looked at six months of NewsHour broadcasts, from October 2005 to March 2006 -- 2,433 sources live and on tape in 606 segments -- challenging the PBS ombudsman's assessment of the show as "the mothership of balance."
Among their findings:
Republicans outnumbered Democrats by 2 to 1, 66 percent versus 33 percent.
*Males outnumbered women more than 4 to 1, 82 percent to 18 percent.
*Sources advocating we stay the course in iraq outnumbered pro-withdrawal sources by 5 to 1.
*Average people were only 14 percent of sources and public interest groups
As you might expect, the folks at the NewsHour objected to FAIR's conclusions, challenging their apparent methodology of combining people who appear in footage accompanying stories in a count with people who appear in their studio as guests.
"They count (former Bush press secretary) Scott McClellen appearing 25 times -- I can guarantee he has not been an invited guest that many times," said Rob Flynn, vice president of communication or McNeil/Lehrer productions. "As a presidential spokesman, he's going to be covered extensively. if the study is going to count every person who pops up on the NewsHour...I'm not sure that's the best measure."
But the FAIR report notes "the decision about exactly which various people will be given the opportunity to say what they wish about events is a crucial judgment part of journalism." Seems the publicly-funded NewsHour might want to take a closer look at the overall picture of America it is offering on its airwaves.
Local TV News Still Tops as a News Source
More good news for those bemoaning the state of local TV news: a new study by the Radio and Television News Directors Foundation has found more Americans choose local news among their top three sources of news than any other form of media -- including the Internet.
*Less than 5 percent have watched news on a handheld device such as a video iPod.
*More than 75 percent want to watch news on a TV set.
*They want to watch news when it is convenient for them. More than 40 percent would like to assemble their own newscasts; more than 60 percent would like to access more information on a subject via a button push.
*And 60 percent have never read a blog or don't know what they are.
The study's conclusion, for TV types who have worried the media sky is falling, is clear: "People like traditional media. They know it and they're comfortable with it. But..they also made clear they want a whole range of new media type options. In particular, they want news and information on demand, and many want to interact with that news."
Of course, the study was commissioned by a professional organiation for broadcast professionals. But I know the researcher, Ball State University's Bob Papper, and I trust his methods. Only question left, is whether the industry will listen to his conclusions.
O'Reilly Shows Graphic Turning Foley into a Democrat
Those of us who have been watching TV news for a while know the graphics which appear onscreen are often a broadcast's achilles heel -- the place where inattentive producers insert mistaken identifications, mispelled names and inaccurate information.
Still, lots of folks are having fun with the mistake our pal Bill O'Reilly made last night, turning disgraced Republican ex-Congressman Mark Foley into a Democrat.
Given O'Reilly's, um, casual relastionship with the truth at times, it's hard for some partisans to believe it wasn't an intentional error -- particularly since it happened twice. And given the lengths some pundits have gone to try distancing the Republican party from this scandal -- Rush Limbaugh hosted House Speaker Dennis Hastert yesterday complaining about the timing of the scandal's impact -- who knows what people might try to save the GOP from itself?
CBS Switches Time Periods for The Class and Mother
In a sure sign the Tiffany Network is losing confidence in its freshman comedy The Class, CBS has switched it's timeslot with returning comedy How I Met Your Mother, beginning next Monday (Mother now at 8 p.m. and Class at 8:30 p.m.).
As somebody who can't stand most of CBS' sitcoms anyways, this doesn't mean much to me. But fans of Mother star Neil Patrick (Doogie Howser) Harris can take comfort in the fact that they can hit the hay a half-hour sooner now.
(click on any art to enlarge)