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Stefanie Van de Velde
Herman J. Claeys
Tuesday, October 12, 2004
1 Hour of CNN Yields Less Than 5 Minutes of News
A Detailed Analysis by TvNewsLies.org
The most recent polls reveal that 69% of Americans still believe that Saddam Hussein and Iraq were involved in the terror attacks of 9/11! How could this totally erroneous idea be shared by a majority of the public? Any informed individual would have known that this is absolutely untrue – that no connection between Iraq and 9/11 has ever been substantiated. Are Americans simply not listening to the news? No way. They really believe they are getting information they can rely on from the media. The poll is just one example of the complete failure of the American television news networks to accurately inform the public.
The television news networks are the primary sources of information about domestic and international events for most Americans. The networks have had two years to accurately inform the public about the most important terror event in the lives of this generation of Americans, yet they failed miserably in their responsibility to do so. The question, of course, has to be raised: “How can this have happened?” While the answer is more complex than brevity would allow, one thing has become painfully apparent: the news most vital to Americans about their nation and the world is simply not being reported by American television networks.
There are three American television networks that purport to be national news networks. However, a closer look reveals something as bizarre as it is disturbing. On the “news” networks, what is missing is NEWS!
After months of observation, TVNL has discovered that after 6 minutes into any news broadcast on these networks, no more news is reported for the hour. What viewers get instead is biased speculation, in depth tabloid stories (a la the Star or the National Inquirer), stories of local or regional interest, and a great deal of infomercial content.
To illustrate this point, TVNL taped and analyzed a one hour CNN news program aired on September 5th, 2003 at 7:00 PM EST, during the prime time evening news hour.
We categorized the content of the broadcast based on expected coverage by a “national” newscast. Local news broadcasts would understandably have different responsibilities to inform their viewers about regional or local events. We expect a national news network to report stories that affect the nation and the world. While we understand that a percentage of every broadcast may be devoted to content other than the straight forward reporting of vital news events, we do expect more than 5 minutes of news per hour.
The program content has been broken down into the following categories:
News – Reporting of recent events that affect the nation or the world, sans opinion or bias. This excludes conjecture or speculation and it excludes important news that may be reported as headline but should be detailed on a regional or local broadcast..
Headlines – Preview of upcoming stories. (Not considered news)
Talk Show – Speculation or discussion. This is where reporters, anchors or so called experts are called upon to voice their opinions on an issue. This is not reporting an event; it is offering opinions about the event.
Regional News – News events of limited relevance that belong on local news networks. This may include important issues that affect a region rather than the nation.
Tabloid News – Sensational stories that have no impact on the nation and are being reported to ensure high ratings or to distract viewers from more important issues. These are the stories that we would only find in the National Inquirer several years ago.
Infomercials – Non-news. These are segments promoting commercial ventures. In other words this is advertising dressed up as news.
Commercial break. This accounts for time spent airing paid advertisements.
NOTE: Many stories technically fall into more than one category, but for the sake of clarity we will only designate one category per item. Example: A news item covering the Laci/Scott Peterson case can be classified as both Regional and Tabloid News. EXCEPTION: If a segment of the story is actual news, and the rest can be classified as SPECULATION, the allocated time will be divided between each appropriate category.
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