Whenever I’m fortunate enough to enjoy dinner at home, at a reasonable hour, I like to watch a national news broadcast. NBC, ABC or CBS, at 6:30 p.m.
For weeks, and until the Boston bombings, I was enthralled with North Korea. What would Kim Jong Un’s endgame be? What was all this building to?
Then, this story that captivated us for days all but disappeared, replaced with a horror much closer to home. Boston Strong entered the national lexicon.
Day after day, a new headline after next emerged. I waited and wondered, what would be next?
To ask if this wall-to-wall coverage was overkill is too simple of a question. I expect it from Fox News, CNN or MSNBC. That’s why those channels exist — for the news junkie. To explore all aspects of a story.
Let’s just talk about that 30 minutes each night from 6:30 until 7 p.m. on the big three networks. That rundown of the day’s events. The national conversation.
One might rightfully expect the entire news broadcast to be taken up by a single topic day of incident. Most networks expanded their coverage the night of the bombings, leaving it up to the affiliates whether you saw, say an hour of Brian Williams or “Wheel of Fortune” instead.
Eventually, however, news gave way to entertainment. And you? Well, you were left without the rest of the day’s news. If you were patient, your night might have looked something liked this bomb coverage, bomb coverage, “Entertainment Tonight,” bomb coverage, bomb coverage, “How I Met Your Mother,” bomb coverage.
Let’s look at it a different way. How many newspapers have you picked up in your lifetime that have devoted the entire edition to a single news topic. Rarely? Ever?
Is that a fair comparison? Not really. It’s all about resources and how they’re used. And audience expectation.
You see, if you just heard about the Boston bombings, turned on the TV, you want to know what your preferred station has to say about it. So that’s what they do — even if it means repeating the same five bits of information repeatedly, instead of telling us what happened in North Korea today; which was their lead until the first bomb went off.
However, you don’t expect to pick up a newspaper, blindly open it to any page and see the latest on the bombings. You know where you’ll find it; 1A. Dear Abby is safely tucked away in her space in Lifestyles. North Korea is inside. Everything you need to know is right where you expect to find it.
Further, feeding the audience hunger for the latest headlines led many a news agency (cough, CNN, cough) down some pretty slippery slopes during the first few days of the Boston coverage.
While Brian, Diane and Scott were repeating what little they did know the day of the bombings and showing the video for the eighth or ninth time, sadly, a lot of what you would have seen on the evening telecast — already well into production when this story broke — sat unused on the metaphorical cutting room floor.
The networks realize you’d like to see that stuff, too. But they just don’t know how to get it to you. They can’t take a chance that someone might change that channel while that giving you some substance with their style.
Here’s hoping that in this day of digital broadcast, they can at least spare a crawl at the bottom of their screen to say “Hey, if you are interested in some of today’s other news, turn to channel blank or visit us at www ...”
Hey, I care about what happens in Boston, too. And when bad guys are hiding in backyard boats, I stay glued to the tube just as much as the next guy. But sometimes, I need to finish that chapter on North Korea while you’re watching that bombing video for the fourth time.
Until next time, Stay Tuned.
Bill Green is a Naples Daily News/naplesnews.com journalist and a professional couch potato. Contact him at email@example.com. Connect with him at facebook.com/billdgreen.