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Do You Still Watch the Evening News? Dear David Muir

February 23, 2019

Another Way for week of February 22, 2019

Photo from dailymail.co.uk

Do You Still Watch the Evening News?

Dear David Muir: I want to like you, I really do. Maybe I ought to say I like you but I have not actually liked your evening newscast for some time. Yet still we watch.

We are longtime ABC Evening News watchers. We loved your predecessor, Peter Jennings. Years ago, I once got to tour the ABC World News Washington D.C. studio, and actually saw a previous predecessor, Frank Reynolds, in the elevator. For a writer/editor/scriptwriter junkie like me, that pretty much makes a lifetime fan, when you’ve been in the actual studio. (When my group saw Reynolds, afterwords we all said, he’s so short!) But I digress.

The best thing on your newscast comes at the very end, where you share the good, the soul-stirring, the inspiring: moments of people being kind and strong. Your “Made in America” campaigns and frequent stories of factory workers who do just that is also marvelous—and always feels good for my husband who spent most of his working life in one factory or another including 30 years on a warehouse floor. You seem to genuinely appreciate and enjoy holding up the values and people who do make up the backbone of our country—and manufacture the things we use and wear every day.

But. You sell us short and I’m not blaming you for this—when your news shows are produced in such a way that all we really get is quick bites and pieces of stories—often strung out over three days or more, and repeated ad nauseum. Your producers constantly use teasers almost the whole broadcast, where brief “click bait” sentences keep viewers coming back after commercials. And then the “story” is nothing but a short clip of 10 seconds or less. Really?

Speaking of commercials, the first 16 minutes of the show without a commercial break is great. Brilliant innovation. But then we slog through endless (six to eight—really!) commercials and looooongg minutes of dealing with psoriasis, incontinence, high blood pressure, diabetes. I guess your colleagues have already given up on the under 50 crowd as viewers. And yes, someone has to pay for TV programming: the advertisers.

So why do I hear that even friends my age (I’m absolutely elderly) are no longer watching the news? That’s a shame. We want to be informed. But what we get mostly is video bait.

Which brings me to the constant use of home videos. Where are the professionals sent out on assignment? Where is the true investigative reporting? Rarely done anymore. Perhaps it saves money, and sure, usually a weather reporter is sent to cover the latest major weather story, always “affecting millions” in “20-35 states.” We get almost nothing of news from around the world—unless it is breaking (does

Photo by Jerry L. Holsopple

every show HAVE to start with “breaking news” said so breathlessly—with a rush of words it’s hard to catch everything?). The days of deliberate deliveries by bespectacled Walter Cronkite’s are gone forever I guess. Maybe there’s a speed between breathless and belabored.

The relentless pace almost makes me tired before the program is begun. I know: if I want world news, I can watch PBS, listen to NPR, or read the Washington Post or New York Times. And find it all online. There are many ways to be informed these days.

I’ve endeavored to see if the other major network newscasts are structured similarly and wasn’t too surprised to see that the answer is mostly yes. And yes, I know there are a lot of people who decide and tell you how to do news. Like a pastor or preacher, you get critiqued for how you wear your hair, your clothes, whether you’re too fat, too thin, or the wrong race or gender.

I guess I’m writing because I do like you, and I care about a better-informed public. On tonight’s broadcast, right after you shook hands with a 100-year-old World War II veteran from right across town in Brooklyn, New York, you adlibbed (I think), “… And that’s why I love my job.” I guess it is such moments that keep us coming back, too.

And that’s the way it is. Your mostly loyal watchers, Melodie and Stuart Davis

***

Do you watch evening news on TV? What is your go-to news source?

***

If you could change one thing about the evening news, what would it be?

***

Is it time for the evening news TV broadcasts to go away and everyone get their news online or …. ?

***

Comment here or send to anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.  

 

 

 

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11 Comments
  1. Beverly Silvwe permalink

    Hi Melodie, I try to watch evening news – Occasionally the local news on our
    abc station, mainly for the weather. (just wait till the next morning for the local news otherwise.) I detest the excessive waste of time – not even devoted to real commercials but all the wasted time and epetition telling us what may be next or touting themselves – but I digress – I do not regularly watch the network news – mainly for the reasons you stated. I do watch the 5:30 to 6:00m public – PBS BBC news and then most of the PBS News Hour – good coverage of National stuff and sometimes more in depth stuff. As soon as they sign off I switch back to Muir for his last feel-good feature. I agree with your analysis! Beverly

  2. Sue sparks permalink

    I do still watch the news but not always the same network.
    I haven’t heard national news say this but all of our local news say it. They say “exclusively “ for which ever station it is. Exclusively? Does it matter, it doesn’t to me.

  3. It’s good to watch different networks, I know. Stuart watches the morning news on different channels. That’s another good observation–about exclusively. Overrated, along with Breaking news, every night. We should switch around some. Sometime you have to fill me in on flushing ice cubes for snow storms??

  4. I have to admit that I’m clueless on this one. I stopped watching the news many years ago, and now rarely have the TV on. Too many great books – and blogs – to read I guess.
    But even though I don’t watch the news, I still enjoyed reading your post about it.

    • Trisha, you are probably the youngest of the commenters here: and I’m not surprised to hear you say you stopped watching many years ago. I know our daughter don’t watch either–but stay informed other ways. I’m glad you enjoyed the post and to realize maybe you’re not missing that much! Thanks for stopping in.

  5. We used to watch Cronkite almost every night, but it’s been a long time since his ilk reigned on newscasts. We rarely watch now. I see David Muir every so often. I prefer BBC News which has a more global, less acerbic tone. But not every night.

    When I go to the library, I read the New York Times to stay in touch with opposing points of views and latest trends. Great questions, Melodie.

    • Thanks for sharing your news sources–it seems like at one time Cronkite was quite universal, and CBS news reigned. Speaking of libraries, we used to go all the time while the children were at home but now that I can check out books from the Little Libraries nearby and keep them as long as I want … I don’t have much reason to go to the library. And EMU now charges for a library card for community people. Oh well … always love hearing from you.

  6. Colin Figures permalink

    Hi Melody,
    I enjoyed your article even though I live the other side of ‘The Pond’.
    I must admit when last in the States I was surprised, nay shocked, at how parochial/ home state only American TV news seemed.
    I have lived without TV for eight and a half years now but do want to say informed. For news I mainly listen to the BBC World Service. I recommend it for international news.
    Alongside that I listen to local radio.

  7. We love hearing how it looks/sounds from the other side of the pond!! Thanks for your comments and observations. Right now we’re hearing some news from the President’s travels to Hanoi etc. but it doesn’t delve much into the deep issues with all of that. I guess there are better places to get that info! Nice to hear from you.

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