Months after I left a full-time job in the business, I still find myself channel-surfing during television news broadcasts, comparing and contrasting what different stations do with different stories ..... I honestly don't know if I'll ever truly, fully shake the habit ..... anyway, it might sometimes provide material for a post on my weblog.
Last week, I was bopping back-and-forth between two stations, and noticing a difference in how stories were covered, and where they were placed. One station led with new developments in the story of a student who died in an altercation at Midland-Lee High School, full package treatment that included audio/video from the boy's father, and a sit-down with a panel of educators about items of special note in this particular case. This was followed by the announcement that a suspect in an Odessa bank robber had been arrested, and included video of that suspect in custody. While all this was airing, another station had a brief announcement about a sex offender, then a full package about a service organization engaged in special efforts for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Don't get me wrong - the Thanksgiving meals package was a great report, well-written, well-shot and well-edited. And it also reported news that genuinely needed to be shared with the community. I thank that station (one where I used to work, as a matter of fact) for presenting the story ..... but I do question its placement at the head of the broadcast. Sitting, as I now am, on-the-outside-looking-in, I have to ask if that story was upper-most in people's minds.
I found myself asking similar questions this week, when one station reported live from Fort Stockton, digging out from under the weekend snowfall, as stranded travelers got back on the road, and crews got to work on damaged trees. While all this was airing, another station ran a full package that localized the 'Cyber Monday' shopping phenomenon ..... again, a good report, and one that genuinely needed to be shared with the community ..... but, again, I question its placement at the head of the broadcast.
And let's not single-out a particular outlet, or a particular medium. Eric asks similar questions with this post at Fire Ant Gazette, about story placement in a local newspaper ..... though his inquiry does follow different lines, and also offers some possible answers.