Smith, Barbara M. [faculty advisor, Department of Journalism]
infotainment; news, broadcast, journalism
The money driven, have-it-done-by-yesterday world Americans live in takes no prisoners, and television news is certainly no exception. Driven by profits and struggling to keep up with the busy American with a short attention span and even shorter amount of free time, it seems broadcast television news programs have resorted to a man bites dog, blood and guts, celebrity format. What many think of as news seems to be no more than a few attention grabbing headlines already digested and spit back out in a way that the viewer can understand. In order to get down to the real story of what these news programs are presenting I viewed, logged and occasionally taped various types of programs which all fall under the heading of news. I also relied on library research and interviewed professional sources within the television news industry for their opinion. I developed methods of categorizing and dissecting these news programs in order to see what type of information these programs were presenting and in what way. After months of watching these news programs I found that there might still be a place out there for objective, comprehensive news. I also discovered that criticized comedy programs like The Daily Show, may offer just as much substance as the average local news program and that there a well-carved niche for screaming heads debating over the day’s news stories. After studying this variety of outlets my hope is that the average viewer can discern between these options and make the choice that keeps them most informed and allows them to self-govern based on the information they glean from these programs.