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Friday, December 29, 2006

Local TV News: Wrecking Ohio's Big Cities

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- The local daily carried a letter to the editor this morning from Tricia Hurst, now a Northeast Ohioan, who moved away from Cincinnati seven years ago for law school in Cleveland, where she settled and stayed. Hurst contends the hurricane-strength coverage of police-blotter stories by TV journalists has created a mindset among those who watch that barbarians are wild in the streets. She thinks the Category 5 coverage of crime news is flattening the economic health of Cincinnati, Cleveland and other mid-sized municipal counterparts such as Baltimore.

''A big part of the problem is the media," Hurst wrote, noting that she was a former TV newsie and speaks from bitter experience.

She has a point. This morning I checked the line-up of stories on WKRC-TV, Channel 12 in Cincinnati. There were a dozen, and nine of the stories were basic police blotter stuff, including the lead piece this morning, about a bandit flashing his pistol at a cabbie.

So here's a tip from The Daily Bellwether to TV newsrooms: Other Things Are Happening!!! Of course, the TV journalists might actually have to do some work to find out what is going on.

I'll offer this freebie -- look into what the future probably holds for the old building in Cincinnati where King Records rocked, rolled and serenaded America. James Brown was among the many whose performances were recorded in the King studios, and the site is about as historic as Sun Records down in Memphis. But the King building is empty and could soon be facing a wrecking ball. Tell us what is up, if anything. Any danger to King is a crime of sorts.

Tricia Hurst panned TV newsrooms for serving a diet of scary piffle, and said it is because owners can make money without real news. That's behind the dive into the police blotter.

''I left journalism after barely getting a foot in the door because of what I saw inside a TV newsroom. There is not enough that goes on in any medium-sized city to justify 90 minutes of local news twice a day five days a week. They have to find a way to fill the airwaves, though, and run with the 'if it bleeds, it leads' stories to keep people watching."

[Ed. Note: I initially did not mention the Cincinnati Enquirer as the source of Ms. Hurst's letter because I was miffed. They followed up a story -- the one about O'Gara that appeared here 24 hours earlier -- and published it today without mentioning where it appeared first. The Bellwether is not so cheesy and has good manners and is not loath to say thank-you, Enquirer, for printing the Hurst letter today.]

1 comment:

  1. I just commented on this elsewhere yesterday.

    Local TV News in Cincy, and I believe most other cities, an unconscionable wasteland where it's crime stories, fluff, and nothing in-between. And yes, over time it can negatively affect the image of a city beyond what it deserves.

    All of that doesn't change the fact that Cincy's murder RATE has reached an alltime high, but it does give the impression that things are worse citywide than they really are (but let's acknowledge that it's a lot worse, even citywide, than it should be).