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When News Isn't News

By cei in MLP
Fri May 11, 2001 at 08:31:02 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)

The Rocky Mountain Media Watch has petitioned the Federal Trade Commission to declare that ads promoting Denver TV news programs are false and deceptive. Their petition claims that "the programs are substantially non-news, comprised of violence, mayhem, entertainment, and fluff."

Story at tompaine.com and full text of the petition can be found at the RMMW's website.

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comments (24)
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What news is news? (local broadcast)
o Live car chases 6%
o An entertainer's legal/substance abuse problems 2%
o Health tips 1%
o Sports bloopers 2%
o Human interest stories 5%
o None of the above 66%
o All of the above 13%

Votes: 109
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o tompaine.c om
o RMMW's website
o Also by cei

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When News Isn't News | 33 comments (27 topical, 6 editorial, 0 hidden)
Why, oh why? (4.40 / 5) (#1)
by RareHeintz on Wed May 09, 2001 at 03:53:31 PM EST

Why, I say why didn't I think of that? This is easily the best idea I've heard in ages. Not that the FTC will investigate as requested - I mean, come on - but to draw attention to the issue in this way is brilliant.

Now they just have to get it covered in the news...

- B
http://www.bradheintz.com/ - updated kind of daily

Have brain, will think (1.00 / 5) (#2)
by dzeroo on Wed May 09, 2001 at 04:21:35 PM EST

Man, go read a book or something. Where have you been?? You sound like that Neo guy from the Matrix waking up. Go read Neil Postman's "Amusing ourselves to death".

== chicks are for fags ==

While I agree with their intent... (4.66 / 3) (#3)
by Estanislao Martínez on Wed May 09, 2001 at 04:22:24 PM EST

...I must say that their particular attack makes me very uneasy. In their whole petition I could nowhere find a definition of the crucial term, "news", nor a reference to such a definition. And I'd be worried that such a definition might curtail journalistic freedoms.

Their argument that the stations are not appropriately serving the public interest is the most convincing, though-- still, it


Good observation (none / 0) (#4)
by Anonymous 242 on Wed May 09, 2001 at 04:29:09 PM EST

I just finished reading the entire petition and didn't even notice that. Though, in defense of Rocky Mountain News Watch, that was part of their petition, for the FTC to define just what news is. One of their requests is for the FTC to:
Issue clear advertising guidelines for news programming consistent with standards set by the Society of Professional Journalists and National Association of Broadcasters. Jurisdiction
If "news" is left undefined, that would seem to me to be a big loophole for the broadcasters of the Rocky Mountain area.

[ Parent ]
aaargh, incomplete post (1.00 / 1) (#8)
by Estanislao Martínez on Wed May 09, 2001 at 04:54:29 PM EST

Yeah, I went back to change something midsentence and hit submit. Aaargh.

[ Parent ]

Yes, but... (4.50 / 2) (#12)
by RareHeintz on Wed May 09, 2001 at 05:18:21 PM EST

...for a definition of news or newsworthiness they give references to standards set by organizations such as the Society of Professional Journalists.

As for myself, I really don't think that sports bloopers, doggie weddings, or all-O.J.-all-the-time qualify as news - at least, not the kind Ithat does me any good to know.

- B
http://www.bradheintz.com/ - updated kind of daily
[ Parent ]

In a way (2.00 / 1) (#5)
by finkployd on Wed May 09, 2001 at 04:43:46 PM EST

The world is substancially comprised of violence, mayhem, entertainment, and stuff, so reporting on it would be technically news.

Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
it's news (2.50 / 2) (#6)
by Delirium on Wed May 09, 2001 at 04:46:51 PM EST

Unless the Denver news is significantly less news-like than anywhere else in the nation, this seems like a misuse of FCC rules to criticize what they think is poor news coverage (but is still, in fact, news coverage). News is, by definition, "information about recent events or happenings" [American Heritage Dictionary]. I presume these news programs do in fact do that. Whether they primarily report important news, or do a good job analyzing said news, is entirely irrelevant.

They claim Denver is representative (4.00 / 1) (#10)
by Estanislao Martínez on Wed May 09, 2001 at 05:10:07 PM EST

Unless the Denver news is significantly less news-like than anywhere else in the nation, [...]

They cite one of their own reports, where they present data that they claim shows that the Denver shows are representative of local shows across the US.

[ Parent ]

news (2.00 / 1) (#11)
by Delirium on Wed May 09, 2001 at 05:13:25 PM EST

Well in that case I'd definitely say they really don't have any basis for their claim (I had put that caveat in my post because of the possibility that Denver news shows were much worse than the ones I am familiar with). Local news shows might not report important news, but they do report news. They report random things like thefts, murders, local political races, celebrity visits to the city, political scandals, etc. You might disagree with the importance of each of these news items, but as they're all reports of recent happenings, they're all by definition news.

[ Parent ]
When is news not news? (4.00 / 4) (#7)
by jabber on Wed May 09, 2001 at 04:53:15 PM EST

When it's MLP or Op-Ed.

Here's to truth in advertising.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"

When an Article isn't an Article (4.33 / 3) (#9)
by HypoLuxa on Wed May 09, 2001 at 05:04:46 PM EST

If you check out the link on tompaine.com, make sure you read the part stating that it is a press release from RMMW, not actual reporting on the story.

I'm guided by the beauty of our weapons.
- Leonard Cohen
Touché (none / 0) (#14)
by cei on Wed May 09, 2001 at 05:52:08 PM EST

Point taken.

[ Parent ]
good news (4.00 / 5) (#16)
by YelM3 on Wed May 09, 2001 at 06:41:32 PM EST

I'm glad to hear about this. I recently moved to San Diego from the San Francisco area, and the TV news down here is utter trash compared to what I was used to. The primetime news always includes 'Survivor' updates, for example. I hope this leads to some kind of precedent for what can claim to be news. I realize most of this country is made up of morons, and that isn't going to get better any time soon, but if we could at least distinguish between legit reporting and trashy corporate entertainment shock-value tv, that would be nice.

Survivor updates... (none / 0) (#21)
by GreenHell on Wed May 09, 2001 at 08:15:14 PM EST

heh. lucky you, Survivor updates made the front page of the local paper where I live, probably made it to the news too, but I never watch it so I don't know, I prefer to get my news from other sources. Oh, and by front page, I mean 'above the fold' front page, who cares about the world, who cares about politics, WE'VE GOT FSCKING SURVIVOR!

[ Parent ]
Survivor: Head of State Edition! (none / 0) (#31)
by brion on Sat May 12, 2001 at 02:33:24 AM EST

who cares about the world, who cares about politics, WE'VE GOT FSCKING SURVIVOR!

The simple solution to this problem is to make politics into entertainment. The China/spyplane incident could have been more quickly resolved by putting George Bush and Jiang Zemin together on a small island and seeing who comes out alive - if Bush lives, the US gets its plane back, if Zemin lives, they keep the plane and the US stops surveillance flights along their coast. And of course - they'd both have to eat weird icky stuff, and it'd all be on TV!!!!

We could also solve the California energy crisis with a game show called "Who Wants to Pay Back the Billions of Dollars You Owe" - for each question that an Edison or Pacific Gas & Electric executive gets wrong, he has to pay back an increasing amount of his company's artificial, fraudulent debt!

Maybe I'd watch more TV if it were relevant like this...

Chu vi parolas Vikipedion?
[ Parent ]
New Advertisements (4.50 / 6) (#19)
by Anonymous 6522 on Wed May 09, 2001 at 07:01:14 PM EST

"Watch Channel 6's Reality-based Mayhem, Fluff, Weather, and Sports at 9!"

I bet an ad like that would attract more viewers than just "Watch Channel 6 News at 9."

Life's worse Here (3.00 / 2) (#22)
by turtleshadow on Wed May 09, 2001 at 11:52:04 PM EST

As a victim of the problem I hope that such things will make the enlightened "middle class" wake to the problem.
Unfortunately until having "real" news is seen as a successful differentiator from competitors which equates to advertising generating revenue the problem will persist.
I opposed the Joint Operating Agreement between the Post & News
which is robbing the region of alternative legitimate sources of regional news and information.

Its hard to stop "hot media" as the human animal thrives off titilation, suspense, drama.
Channel 23 ahead Brace for Impact!!!!
Are the [insert facist bread & circus sports franchise here] playing?
A. is I-25 gridlocked?
B. was there only 3 minutes of "News" today not 5?
C. Was there a riot at CSU, CU or UNC?


Post/News bit. (1.00 / 1) (#24)
by kezdeth on Thu May 10, 2001 at 12:24:19 AM EST

I hadn't thought to bring those into this, but you're right to do so. These only further make my point made earlier that unless you are a sports nut the "news" available for the Denver market just plain sucks. All I can say is thank the Gods for the internet, and DSL, at least that way I can find out what's really going on in this world.

[ Parent ]
isnt it sad... (4.20 / 5) (#25)
by rebelcool on Thu May 10, 2001 at 12:38:02 AM EST

when the most honest news is the daily show? I mean, tonite jon stewart calling that congresswoman from new jersey a "dumbass" for boycotting the sopranos when she admitted never even watching the show is a good example of it.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site

how? (none / 0) (#30)
by eudas on Sat May 12, 2001 at 02:10:15 AM EST

how do you boycott something that you already do without? what is the meaning of such a boycott?

"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]
Where are news new? (1.33 / 3) (#26)
by raz on Thu May 10, 2001 at 04:58:59 AM EST

So what is the definition of news? To be brand-new? Guess not, due to the fact, that with this no evening news are that new as morning news are. So you want to prohibit any eve news, cause they aren't new? Guess not.

The Simpsons (4.25 / 4) (#27)
by Tachys on Thu May 10, 2001 at 08:32:47 AM EST

This reminds me of a scene on the Simpsons.

<On TV lot of shooting and violence in background>

"Now get ready for channel 6"

<huge explosion>

"ACTION NEWS, now your host Kent Brockman"

Any game that gets banned by the Austrailian govt can't be all bad... - Armaphine

Give us back journalism!! (4.00 / 1) (#28)
by turtleshadow on Fri May 11, 2001 at 01:51:36 AM EST

I agree with the contention what constitutes "News."
I'd say its sound, well researched, objective and community oriented journalism.
Which is lacking in the region in question and forcing the issue.
Today the how, what, when, where,why are dummied down to "this happened, then this unrelated thing happened ... sports"

Present a non-partisan forum to discuss how our Government is spending our bucks or mis-spending our bucks.
I don't particully care when the news anchor dashes out from behind a dumpster and bushwacks a sleeping Metro Division Waste Management worker sleeping on his shift in the truck.
Show the news conference where his superiors gets sanctioned by the Mayor.
Dont tell me about how we were strung along by B*eing. Research and tell us what the the His/Her Honors were ready to "promise" under the table.

Lastly sports at any level is Entertainment no more no less -- Dont tell me H.S. X won this or that, that's not journalism its score keeping. Tell me which one is sending the most kids to 1st tier colleges on academic merit; or which have successful Industrial, Arts, pre-Peace Corps, habitat for humanity programs, etc. Most primates can through balls to some extent -- thats not news.

Isn't this true of... (3.00 / 1) (#29)
by Sairon on Fri May 11, 2001 at 11:27:10 AM EST

just about any "news" program? I think web sites like Kuro5hin are the LAST hope for actual journalism, which at least in the USA, is dead. The news media is the new "opiate of the masses" of a new form of socialism.


socialism? (none / 0) (#32)
by akb on Sat May 12, 2001 at 09:57:43 AM EST

Perhaps I'm misinterpreting your post but with your last sentence you seem to be saying that the current vacuous news media heralds a new form of socialism. The "opiate of the masses" phrase is used by Marx to refer to religion as part of a critique of capitalism. Marx was definitely pro-socialism :) The initiative to exert some control over the media for the public good, trumping the property holders right to profit, seems wholly consistent with socialism.

What RMMW is doing is also critical of capitalism, in that the profit motive is inconsistent with quality news. This is in line with the thinking of media critics such as McChesney and Chomsky.

Substitute "totalitariamism" for "socialism" or perhaps George Soros' phrase "market fundamentalism" and I'd agree with you.

I definitely share your opinion on the sorry state of the news media. I don't think we should concede traditional media for the Internet, so I'm quite heartened to see this kind of attempt to reclaim the media.

Collaborative Video Blog demandmedia.net
[ Parent ]

no news is good news (none / 0) (#33)
by fonebone on Sun May 13, 2001 at 01:32:20 PM EST

i don't have any sources, but i'm sure someone can back me up here. i remember reading that the term "no news is good news" comes from bbc news about fifty years ago. if nothing happened that day which was newsworthy (a typical day, if you watch today's "news" objectively enough), they wouldn't report on fluff. instead, they'd just play albums.

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When News Isn't News | 33 comments (27 topical, 6 editorial, 0 hidden)
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