November 19th, 2012

Maybe it’s because we are currently involved in the Nielsen November TV sweeps period, but many of the stories featured on local television stations often seem borderline silly.

KMBC features an “exclusive” interview with the Kansas City Mayor Sly James’ wayward son about his career as a rapper while reminding viewers that they better watch Larry Moore now before he retires from doing the 10 p.m. news.

KCTV reveals that a local Kansas City man is hot on the trail of “Big Foot,” and that the thing has its own language.

Fox 4 recently broke the news that people are selling Twinkies and other treats on Ebay and Craigslist in a bylined story by anchor Abby Eden. While KSHB’s Emmy-winning investigative reporter Ryan Kath still delivers quality stories, his station also examined whether cursive writing should still be taught in Kansas schools.

TV news has simply become formulaic to generate maximum ratings and appeal to viewers who have the attention span of gnats.

They all operate basically the same.

Open with a crime story (“If it bleeds it leads”) followed by a weather tease “Hey, it could get warm tomorrow,” and then then tease for a big investigative story (that will be held until the second quarter-hour of news) and a few other local stories.

Most of the local “live” stories generally involve reporters standing outside empty buildings doing live shots.  How many times have you seen some reporter standing in the dark noting, ”Earlier today at this school their was a flu outbreak…?” Why?  Because viewers like “live” shots—even when they make little sense.

All of the Kansas City TV stations have done stories on the killing of a young woman involved with the International House of Prayer cult in Kansas City.  But, they can only devote possibly a few minutes to the story and then move on to something else.

That’s why the Kansas City Star (and newspapers in general) provide such a valuable service to the community. If you want an in-depth look at something occuring in the community newspapers are really the only media outlets who can devote the time and effort in delivering the story.

Veteran Kansas City Star reporters Joe Robertson and Donald Bradley put together a major front-page story Sunday (11/18) about the IHOP murder with a focus on the victim’s husband, Tyler Deaton, who was the leader of one of its small faith groups.

Robertson and Bradley have followed the IHOP story from the start and once again shown that newspapers can provide more information than would ever be possible by a TV or radio station.  The behind-the-scenes details provided by the duo are unmatched.

TV can cover events and have the benefit of delivering immediate news.  However, they cannot provide the in-depth news that newspapers can.

All newspapers are going through difficult times and many have closed their doors.  If the KC community lost the Kansas City Star it would be a huge loss for journalism.







5 Responses

  1. Rick Nichols says:


    That’s because many of the stories featured on local television stations ARE borderline silly. But on to newspapers and specifically The Star, “a paper for the people” since 1880 and despite being a diminished product in comparison to the 1980 Star, still a lot of bang for a buck today.
    You mention the IHOP story here. I have been following it in the paper partly out of general curiosity and partly because I have a friend who had been worshiping there, but I do have some concerns about the manner in which the paper is delving into the matter at hand and have expressed those concerns to Star staff. If IHOP as an organization is indeed guilty of something (and I’m certainly not saying that it is), that needs to be determined in the courts. Enough said.
    But you do make an excellent point, John. Without newspapers such as The Star, Americans would be pretty much left in the dark when it comes to important details and the like if they had to rely exclusively on TV stations for their news.

  2. Bob says:

    “While KSHB’s Emmy-winning investigative reporter Ryan Kath still delivers quality stories, his station also examined whether cursive writing should still be taught in Kansas schools.”

    Why did you link to a WDAF story on twinkies with this?

  3. Tim says:

    “Viewers like ‘live’ shots.”

    Is there research indicating that they do? Or did some respected consultant claim that they do, and the rest of the industry bought into it prima facie?

    I also wonder whether a consultant came up with the idea of starting at least every other sentence in a live shot with “now.”

  4. Paul Welsh says:

    It would be a sad day if the Kansas City Star went away but it wouldn’t be a big loss for journalism. The basic tenets I learned in journalism school are woefully absent in this newspaper. It is rare to see a story in the paper that doesn’t appear to simply support a pre-determined story angle. The percentage of genuine reporting versus opinion pieces is very low in my opinion (and I’m not just speaking of the Editorial page).
    I would love to have them do an investigative piece on the Kansas City Star’s unethical circulation tactics. Every city needs a good newspaper serving the purposes we all hope to receive from the Fourth Estate. I wish we still had one of those newspapers.
    That being said, it would still be a loss if this newspaper goes away. But at this point it wouldn’t be a big loss for journalism.

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