We ran across an interesting opinion post over the weekend that, quite honestly, sums up the problem of tv news – to a certain extent, local news and to a much greater and detrimental extent, cable news.

Get over the fact it comes from a print guy. He knows some stuff.

Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist who put in 46 years editing three different Arkansas papers.

But he’s decided he would be a lousy tv news director.


Today’s broadcast and cable news cycles run 24/7, screaming to be filled every minute. I believe that as a purveyor of news with an enormous staff of reporters to rely upon, I’d apply a dash of reason and context to how my imaginary broadcast operation would cover mass shootings and other tragedies.

For instance, since we live in a vast nation of 325 million people, my imaginary news would report such regional killings initially with as much information as available. At the same time, however, I’d expect reporters to continue supplying other relevant news of the day while breaking in with updates on the latest breaking news as additional facts are discovered. I would avoid repetitive speculations by all the chatty “experts,” obviously used to kill time.

We deduced from this that Masterson would not be a slavish disciple of the “first on, last off” rule first endured on the local level and now a cable staple.

Of course we all know that established rule – established by whom, we don’t know but we suspect it was concocted by tv general managers in cahoots with highly-paid consultants who, by virtue of the drain they put on a GM’s station budget, become de facto (and in absentia) news directors with a lot of opinions and few solutions..

He’d continue to cover other news. We can hear the cries of “Heresy” already.

And, heresy of heresies, he’d dump the talking heads on set blathering about their “thoughts” on the unfolding situation.

In short, I’d restructure the air time now devoted to predictable surmisings from talking heads, rambling commentary by news anchors, and constant repetition to other relevant issues.

In doing so, I’d give my audience a reason to rely on our channel to cover many other stories unfolding that day.

Interesting concept. Life, does indeed, go on. It goes on despite a horrifying synagogue shooting or a massacre at a dance hall.

It goes on despite the lifting of a reporter’s press credential and still another attack on a journalist’s reputation.

I’d not be immediately airing egocentric blatherings from on-air personalities and contributors about possible motives …

There’d be no surmising until facts are known, regardless of what the competition might prematurely allege.

This is why Mr. Masterson feels he’d be a lousy news director.

Don’t attempt to disqualify his views because he worked in print.

Print and broadcast are virtually the same now, thanks to online.

Who’s willing to try it?

More News from Monday, November 12, 2018