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Local TV news is one of the biggest revenue generators in the media - but some say the profit motive has damaged the quality of the news itself.
A new documentary by Quinnipiac journalism professor Karin Schwanbeck looks at the pressures on local TV newsrooms. Deadlines and Dollars will be screened at the New Filmakers Festival on April 23 in New York.
She talks with Connecticut-area reporters and news directors, and researchers who've been studying the output of local news stations, and paints a troubling picture. Where no-one seems to think that the quality of the product is a good as it could be, but nothing seems likely to change.
While lots of people have bad things to say about local TV news, it can't be all bad. A big majority of people watch it - some as their primary source of news. A PEW research study in 2006 found that some 77 percent of adults watched local news three times a week. This big viewership means big money for stations - but it creates a big problem.
The profitable local news "holes" as they're called have been expanding....some stations air 5 to 7 hours of local content a day. And they fill those hours with a type of news that many journalists find troubling. Stories about fires, car crashes, shootings and rapes paint a picture of a world that's far more violent than it actually is - say the critics. And it comes at the expense of the coverage of important stories that affect a large number of people.
But, if people are watching...what's the harm? A new documentary by Quinnipiac Journalism Professor Karin Schwanbeck looks at the pressures on local TV newsrooms. "Deadlines and Dollars" will be screened at the New Filmakers Festival on April 23 in New York. She's also getting an award of excellence for the documentary at the Festival of Media Arts this month.
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