RICH NEWS, POOR NEWS by Marvin Barrett


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What's going on in the news departments of the nation's TV stations? According to this spotty survey, the news is good and bad. In some locales, there is a new boldness in reporting on big business malefaction. But the news director of a Dodge City, Kans., outlet admits, ""We don't crap on any business. The boss says they put groceries on my table."" There are more women than ever in broadcasting, but ""Think of the possibility of two women anchors on a network news broadcast, and you'll understand we're still in the Ice Age."" Audiences for news are growing, but many stations use sex-oriented stories to attract them. These are some of the findings of this duPont-funded Columbia University survey, made in connection with the collection of material (such as firm-clips) from which the annual broadcast journalism awards are made. (They will be presented on national TV for the first time on February 14, over PBS stations.) In this thin, esoteric volume, Marvin Barrett, director of the awards, employs the serviceable if not inspiring device of posing an issue, then offering samplings of letters from individual news editors pro and con. He neglects, however, to reveal the size of his sample or the number of respondents. No news director from New York City or Philadelphia, the largest- and third-largest markets, is heard from. (But the print press citations are exclusively from the New York-Washington corridor.) The weight of response is from Utah, Florida, Texas, and Illinois. One would have liked a little less about Barbara Walters' million-dollar salary and Walter Cronkite's superstar status, and just a little more about John Chancellor, who rates scarcely a mention. It leads one to wonder--some days before the event--where the awards will go.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1978
Publisher: T. Y. Crowell