Lost Professionalism in Local News?




Image by Paul Kiser

Local news just bloggers with big cameras?

This week the Reno, Nevada NBC affiliate, KRNV, ran a lead story that was blatantly biased (See article.) The story was meant to stir up anger against the government. More significantly, the story was not by a local news reporter, nor a seasoned professional, but a ‘National Correspondent’ with a very questionable resume.

Local news stations are under  severe financial pressure. Once, the local television station was the 800-pound gorilla in the communication market and could demand the largest fees for advertising. Local stations had a team of reporters eager to go after a story and get the scoop before their competitors.

Today, even national news teams struggle to get the news before it becomes common knowledge on social media. Local stations lost their status as primary sources of information and that has led advertisers to seek other ways to reach the public. As advertising revenue has collapsed, local stations have shredded their news teams and moved away from costly investigative reporting.

To fill the gap, local news stations have resorted to news services and national stories provided by their parent organizations. This has pushed local news aside for commercialized news that is created, packaged, and sold to local stations.

In the case of KRNV, the story lead story was produced by Kristine Frazao, a young reporter who specializes in anti-government stories. Almost all of her national reporting experience with an American version of Russia’s Pravda news organization. She lacks the professionalism of a journalist, and seeks to incite her audience, rather than offer insightful information.

It is left to us to recognize nonprofessionals as local stations have sacrificed good reporting for desperation.

Is It Really A Drought, Or Do We Expect Too Much?

The West is dry...it always will be dry

The West is dry…it always will be dry

186°  I think that local TV News is almost irrelevant. Most local stations have cut back so severely on their news budgets that they have to use national news feeds to fill up most of their reporting. The local reporters are usually underpaid and have few connections within the community, so they rely on news directors to tell them what stories to go after, which are typically stories from today’s local newspaper or a public service announcement they received.

I’ve joked that local news stations could produce their video weeks or months in advance because they always repeat the same stories over and over. Fire danger is the perfect local news story because it can be used in any situation. If it is dry, then the fire danger is high. If it is wet, then fuel for fires is growing which will make the fire danger high when the weather dries out.

Drought is another one of those stories that is overdone. Fly across the country on any given day in the Summer and you will notice that once you are West of the Rocky Mountains there is not much plant life to look at on the ground. Sagebrush, juniper trees, some pine forests, and little clumps of dry grass is what passes for vegetation in the West.

Why? It is because it is desert or high desert from the Pacific Ocean to the Western Slope of the Rockies. Yes, we typically get snow in the Winter, and thunder storms in the Summer, but one look at the humidity in most of the Southwestern states and you will know this is not where a rain barrel is useful.

We’re almost always in a drought or near drought conditions. It is news if it is wet, not if it is dry. Our expectations are screwed up. The idea that we can use super clean, drinkable water on our lawns and gardens in the West is ridiculous. It is even more absurd that we use that same super clean water to flush our toilets. We live in a desert and we don’t think we should have to recycle the water we use.

Our expectation is that water will flow into our sink, down the drain, and out the sewer to be treated to send down stream to the next town. We waste too much and someday we will look back on this period in history and be ashamed of how stupid we were about water.

But then what will local news stations talk about if everyone knew that drought in the West is normal?