June 04, 2004


Ron Hardin

They pull in audience that sells for more than they get paid, thus supporting the business. That's why it's an ongoing business and not bankrupt.

John and Ken (KFI) are all Laci Peterson all the time, and lose me as an audience for the duration. How can they afford losing me? Well, there are thousands of replacements for me. The sociological whimsy that I prefer doesn't sell nearly as well. I'd think celebrity trials would bore them to tears but they're professionals and just tough it out.

Anyway, the incredulity is misguided. It has to identify who the audience for this crap is, and ridicule them instead. Mercilessly. Chips fall where they may, and all that. I'm pretty sure they can be shamed, if they were not kept as a protected group. At the moment they feel protected by their protected status. That might be a step to getting taken seriously, incidentally.

When this crap stops being profitable, the news will do things differently. Not better, necessarily; whatever pays. You can hope.


As I have argued before, I think morning "news" is different than other categories. Given the lives people lead and what's going on in most households between 7 and 8, choices are limited to the best of a bad lot. I guess instead of picking on Today, which I do bc it's most popular, I should start watching the others, to make the argument that they're really much, much worse -- but there's only so much sacrifice I'm willing to make for my art.


Don't turn on the tv.

Ron Hardin

My claim is that the people who put these things on are not dopes. The frame has to be expanded to account for what genre it is if not hard news, and why it's there instead, without saying it's because the people doing it are stupid. You can say that the people watching it are stupid, perhaps, but as part of an audience-shaming strategy aimed at changing the business dynamics. In fact that's my suggestion.

There's lots of money involved. Lots of talent moneywise goes into producing it. The ones best at whatever is needed have survived. Start from there and work backwards to find the frame you need for an analysis. I bring it up again because it answers your question about good conscience. They're doing what they're good at, and what they're paid for. It's what they should be doing. It's a specific business.

I can't see why the analysis isn't obvious, but then I'm a guy. Each gender knows pretty quickly what's aimed at the other one, but not what's aimed at them. The latter always seems like good common sense.

I don't have a TV so wouldn't have the habit; but as a child it was either WQXR (``radio station of the New York Times'') or WCBS (``all news all the time'') that the family had on in the morning; the TV was off. TV demands you watch it, takes over the room. The radio is willing to admit you're possibly doing something else.

I hear sound cuts of Katie Couric from time to time and can't see why anybody would stand for it for a second. Vicki Hearne had a nice line in _Adam's Task_ that it instantly reminds me of,

``Corrections, in Koehler's vision, are administered out of a deep respect for the dog's moral and intellectual capabilities. Punishments on the other hand are part - and this matters tremendously - of the demeaning repertoire of so-called trainers who propose babbling at the dog as sweetly as possible. Cooing, ``Oh my goodness, what a GOOOOD doggie!'' as one training manual actually suggests, is, for Koehler, profoundly cruel, dishonest and dishonorable, the flip side of a beating. Even moderately self-respecting humans grab their hats when addressed in such a fashion.'' p.45

Exactly. I don't see why everybody doesn't grab their hat. But they exist! It's a big market, and needs analysis as to who and why.


Oh, stop with the gender stuff already, you've never produced adequate evidence for it. Yes, they make tons of money. No, they aren't stupid. (Well, the ones behind the camera.) But there's a difference between being stupid or not and being consummed with self-interest. My argument, again, is that they think so little of us that they will not, any of them, give us the choice of a pure news format in the morning. It means NOTHING that one of these shows has the most ratings when we are choosing between shows ALL OF WHICH ARE CRAP and people would like to start their day with something that comes close to resembling news. If these people were such friggin' geniuses at determining what we wanted they wouldn't sink lowerer in the evaluation of the American people with every poll taken.

Oh, but that's probably just the men, right?

Ron Hardin

Well, they don't owe you anything. It's a TV show. The only vote you get is tuning out or in, and that lowers or raises their ad revenue. The business fact is that hard news pulls no audience.

How many city council meeting summaries would you watch? I'd tune out pretty fast. Yet it would be hard news. No audience.

Everybody has an interest in particular things. They tune in for that; but interests vary, unfortunately.

The largest single interest is their chosen audience's. That's stories that the viewer can relate to their own lives. I'm sorry, but that's soap opera news, and that happens to be 40% of women. There's no bigger audience available because there's no generic interest that can be catered to that interests more people.

You peronsalize the gender issue too quickly. (Just heard a joke : ``Women personalize everything.'' ``Well _I_ don't.'') It's what's happening, I can't help it. It needs somebody to say to the 40% ``Look, girls, this relating to your life is great stuff with people you actually know, but it's empty and bubble-headed for celebrities, and if you want to be serious people, stick to the neighborhood.'' _Some woman has to say that._

I also have politically incorrect but true advice for Blacks; ask me sometime.

Anyway that's how they cash their checks. The moral failing is the audience choosing bubble-headedness, a dysfunction that's parasitic on a strength - namely the desire to relate - gone empty via celebrity.




The main problem with TV news is that TV is not suited for complex ideas or stories. TV is best at visual events (Duh!). On 9/11/01 we didn't turn to the NYTimes immediately, we went to our TVs. The unfortunate part of this is that most people get their news from TV and therefore are limited by what news on TV can do. It's not television's fault, it's just the limitation of the medium. I quit watching The Today Show the day Katie Couric expressed shock when Matt Lauer mentioned that pro-abortion was no longer the majority view. I figured that since The Today Show was supposed to be a news show, it might behoove Katie to read something besides W and Vanity Fair. That's when I knew The Today Show was about entertainment and not news.

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