How We Can Change the Media

A quote you see everywhere is Gandhi's line about being the change you want to see in the world. Since I'm a corny guy, I took that to heart. Here are some of the main problems with the establishment media that I want to help change:

1. They are the establishment. They don't challenge the politicians, the government or the system. They are perfectly content to help maintain the status quo.

2. They trade access for positive coverage. In order to get political officials on their shows, they treat them with kid gloves. The single largest factor in making political decisions is campaign donations, yet they almost never ask them about that or talk about it on any of their shows.

3. They do non-stop talking points, yet no one ever says anything. It's just people talking past each other in a very boring, scripted movie we've seen before.

4. They confuse neutrality with objectivity. If the Cowboys and Steelers play and the Steelers win 21-0, and you say the Cowboys and Steelers both played equally well - you have lied to your audience. You are neutral, but nowhere near objective.

So, we set out to do a political talk show where we break all of those rules. This is the beginning. We hope you join us somewhere down this road. Together, let's be the change we want to see in the media.

You Can Participate in the Show (Current, 7PM ET) By Clicking Here

 

40 Million Americans Watched Obama Last Night

Remember how the networks were whining about the fact that they were being asked to fulfill their public service requirements -- in return for which they have access to spectrum through which to broadcast their programming and make money -- by airing the President's prime-time press conference last night? Turns out, Americans actually wanted to watch Barack Obama address the nation.

President Barack Obama capped off a week of television appearances with a prime time press conference on Tuesday March 24, 2009. The event was carried live from 8:00 to approximately 9:00PM on 11 networks. The sum of average audience for those networks was 40,354,000 and had a combined household rating of 25.9. The networks carrying the press conference were ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, Telemundo, Univision, CNBC, CNN, FOX News Channel, MSNBC, mun2.

The President's first prime time press conference was watched by 49.5 million people on eight networks on February 9, 2009.

In the week before the press conference President Obama visited The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on Thursday March 19. The program was seen in 8.9 million homes in the 56 metered markets that represent 70% of all U.S. TV households and earned an average 11.2 rating and 26 share in those local markets. On Sunday March 22 more than 17 million people watched 60 Minutes featuring an extended interview with the President, making the show the 4th most watched show of the week behind American Idol and Dancing with the Stars.

The network heads might not think it's a big deal when President Obama speaks to the country -- but the American people still do. So perhaps instead of thinking only about their bottom lines, which has brought some awful programming (I'm looking at you, "Psych"-ripoff "The Mentalist"!), the networks might begin to figure out what their audiences are actually interested in and go from there.

There's more...

Networks Unhappy About Fulfilling Duties

The broadcast networks have gotten spectrum -- and for more than a decade two sets of spectrum (the frequencies they historically held and will soon give up, in addition to the newer frequencies for HDTV broadcasts) -- from the American public, in return for which they are expected to fulfill minimal public service requirements mainly related to the news. So when the President of the United States announces that he will hold a prime time press conference, granting more access to these networks' reporters while at the same time enabling him to speak to the American people, and this would only be his second since being sworn in two months ago, you'd think that the networks would keep their carping to a minimum. Apparently not, though.

President Obama's decision to hold another primetime news conference is playing havoc with the networks' sweeps schedules--and causing some in the industry to grumble about the financial impact.

The president has slated a news conference for Tuesday at 8 p.m. EDT, his second since taking office two months ago. CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox all have confirmed they plan to carry it.

The networks won't be happy about it, however.

[...]

President Obama had talked to the networks about a primetime speech following the signing of the economic stimulus bill, but opted against it, in part, perhaps, because the networks indicated their displeasure in a Washington Post article published Feb. 6.

"His economic stimulus package apparently does not extend to the TV networks," the Post quoted one network executive as complaining.

It might be one thing if the President were asking for time every night, or once a week, or even once every other week. But it's fairly ridiculous to hear the networks complain about allowing the President to, on occasion, use the public airwaves to speak to the public. Millions of people tune into these broadcasts, so clearly there is an interest, and they serve a function that benefits not only the public but also the networks, whose correspondents get to make news and raise their profiles (think Dan Rather questioning Richard Nixon during a press conference, or NBC grooming David Gregory to take over "Meet the Press" by giving him their chair in the White House). So less whining, please.

There's more...

Republican Media Bias

This won't come as a shock to anyone who has watched television news in the last couple decades, though it may come as a surprise to those who have been brainwashed by the right wing spin machine: The political media are biased towards the Republicans, not towards the Democrats.

A visual analysis of television presidential campaign coverage from 1992 to 2004 suggests that the three television broadcast networks -- ABC, CBS and NBC -- favored Republicans in each election, according to two Indiana University professors in a new book.

[...]

"We don't think this is journalists conspiring to favor Republicans. We think they're just so beat up and tired of being accused of a liberal bias that they unknowingly give Republicans the benefit in coverage," said [Maria Elizabeth] Grabe, who also is a research associate in political science at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. "It's self-censorship that journalists might be imposing on themselves."

[...]

In their research, Democrats were more likely to be subjects of the "lip-flap" effect ["where the reporter's narration is overlaid on video of the candidate talking"], while Republicans more often got the last word. GOP candidates were favored in terms of having the last say in all but the 2004 election. In 1992, the difference was distinctive with Republicans having the final say 57.9 percent of the time. In 1996, Republicans had eight times as many last-say opportunities as Democrats.

[...]

Findings for camera angle clearly illustrate the Republican advantage. Overall, Republican candidates were covered in more low-angle and fewer high-angle shots than Democrats.

These results may be written off by some as reading too much into camera angles and video editing. Indeed, there hasn't been a great deal of coverage of this study since it was released on Tuesday. Nevertheless, the next time Republicans start to whine about the coverage they are receiving from the establishment media, we'll have yet more evidence to throw in their faces, as well as those refs that they are playing inside the Beltway, showing that they in fact are the beneficiaries of the clear bias in reportage.

There's more...

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