Waffling in THREE dimensions.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Television News Survey Final

I did not feel anymore informed
after watching CBS Evening News than I did before. Perhaps this was due to my
consumption of radio news broadcasts, or the perceived fluffy nature of Katie
Couric’s delivery of what should be hard news. It could be due to the mandatory
consumption of said product, but I left unsatisfied.

I enjoyed the pieces that were not done by Katie Couric. Though she left the Today
more than a year ago, I cannot dismiss the fluffy morning show
demeanor she exudes. She seemed to appear primarily for transitions with the
largest stories being covered by a different correspondent, with a few passing
stories presented by herself each lasting about a minute or less. Every story
she presented made me wonder, is this really the most important story she could
be covering? Perhaps it’s just me, but her presentations lacked a certain
weight, or gravitas, that I have come to expect from the news. Katie’s downy
delivery makes me yearn for the thick eccentricity of Dan Rather; even Satirist
Stephen Colbert has a more satisfactory delivery. I implicate myself as a
sexist, but she seems to lack any authority in her presentation even as much
Barbara Walters manages to convey. Perhaps Walter Cronkite has spoiled us.

Strangely, the most entertaining part of the broadcast was unintentional. During a segment
about the drought in the Southeastern United States an interviewee stated,
“Unfortunately, drought is the Rodney Dangerfield of natural disasters. People
don’t take it seriously until it’s too late.” Apparently, the drought ‘don’t
get no respect’; it was the fourth longest story. The longest story was
about the presidential election, which is still a year away, and made use of a
colorful board game as a representation of political caucus. This was a
colorful and enriching method to convey a foreign concept to its viewership. I
would not say that the Evening News
is infotainment, although somewhat sensationalist, because when I look for
entertainment I generally search for something that is uplifting, lighthearted
even, and not talking about the nuclear ambitions of supposed rogue states. I
would further disqualify it from being infotainment for the lack of information
I felt I received during the broadcast, although this was because I acquire the
majority of my news in the morning and my routine does not apply to everyone,
although the visuals were quite stark in some cases. Images of lakes with less
than ten feet of water were much more alarming than imagining what those last
ten feet look like. It raised the issue from something I was aware of to
something I was alarmed of.

I had a roommate who used to tape commercials he found entertaining, like HeadOn and
Gieco commercials, and then watch them over and over. This was annoying; he
would quote them like they were shiny gems of pop culture. The advertisements
in the CBS Evening News were not entertaining; perhaps I wasn’t their target
audience. In fact, I am sure that I am not in their target demographic, but I
doubt they would have been funny to anyone. As far as I can tell, there is
nothing funny about vitamin supplements or erectile dysfunction. I found the
commercials much less funny than the actual news segments, but any news story
that makes a reference to Rodney Dangerfield is gold, so its not really a fair

The targeted demographic was, as I gathered, old. The
longest story was about presidential caucuses, the second about a health scare.
The advertisements were primarily dominated with pharmaceutical commercials for
ailments afflicting the elderly or aging or similar products like vitamins and
fiber-filled cereals; the news stories also seemed skewed toward this audience
with their higher voting turnout and lower immune response.

Finally, I found it odd that there was no coverage of Iraq.

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