"No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions." --Thomas Jefferson to John Tyler, 1804.

A KOIN in the bloody fountain

televisionYou can understandably argue, as some did in response to Kari Chisholm’s Blue Oregon post on local TV news today, that focusing for criticism on Portland’s KOIN (Channel 6) is, as one put it, “shooting fish in a barrel.” The newsroom has been heavily destaffed and defunded since new ownership took over last year on what the local industry now knows as “Black Friday.”

The problem is, the list of stories he cites for a recent KOIN newscast – an endless litany of crime, reported crime, maybe there might’ve been a crime, someone thought there might be a crime, there wasn’t a crime here but here’s video of one 2,000 miles away – seemed out of the norm only for the surprising absence of auto accidents and house fires (again, if not local, then somewhere else). The problem he cites is real enough on local television news almost everywhere in this country and certainly across the Northwest: There’s very little news worth watching on local TV news. (The Chisholm post above and all the many comment attached are well worth the read.)

A sample comment (with which we have some sympathy): “How is it possible to have a well informed debate among the electorate when a huge percentage of eligible voters are being dumbed down by endless mindless drivel on local and national television? Granted it is everyone’s constitutional right to watch as many hours of Dukes of Hazard reruns as they choose (God Bless Daisy Duke!), but how can I be expected to sleep at night knowing that the future of my children and grandchildren will be determined by the same people that made ‘Dancing With the Stars 2’ the most watched ABC non-sports show in 5 years?”

We’d like to continue this discussion. Here’s what we’ll do: We’ll watch two other better-funded stations, second-place KPTV Fox 12, which airs local news at 10 p.m., and market leader KGW NBC 8, which airs at 11. (The earlier evening news is not scheduled to air on KGW owing to a Trail Blazers basketball game.) We’ll see what stories each covers before their main weather or sports break, whichever comes first. And compare those stories to the local lead stories in today’s and tomorrow’s Oregonian.

Back after this . . .

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One Comment

  1. does anybody remember when CBS News was the envy of the industry? Wallace and the gang at 60 Min., Walter C at the desk, young Dan Rather standing up, Eric Severide, etc… That format is dead?

    January 26, 2007

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