Herewith a series of exchanges between me and our local Fox News channel. I do NOT watch the national Fox News--just can't stand it--but the local news comes on at 10 o'clock. Their catchy little promo for themselves is "At 10 it's news, at 11 it's history."
Well, I just go nuts at their choice of stories. So occasionally, I pop off an email to them. This one is from a couple of months back--hence the reference to stories no longer in the news cycle.
To: News Director, Local Fox Network
Subject: News Choice
Mr. News Director—
I am writing to protest the choice of news at WPMT.
Two nights ago, I watched your newscast at 10 p.m. One of the stories that aired was footage from somewhere in India, where people dropped babies from a height on to mattresses below. The explanation of this salacious story gave no indication why on earth it was of ANY interest anywhere, especially central Pennsylvania.
I was appalled--first, why that story? Second, how many dumb people seeing it might decide to do just that. And third, there are genuine stories that could be covered. For example, the story of Sergeant German, a young soldier who was injured in Iraq--burned over 90 % of his body. He recently died. That story has all the human interest you could possibly hope for, and actually has some merit for an audience anywhere.
For a long time, I have been disgusted at the news stories you air that are from outside this area. Most seem to be chosen because they are sensational. I will stop watching your news at 10 as long as this type of stories is your standard fare.
First I want to thank you for writing FOX LOCAL NEWS about your concerns over our story coverage of the babies in India being dropped from the building.
I also read the story on the internet this weekend about the marine who died from his burns. That story most likely will be moving on our news services in the next day or two.
The baby story also came to us from both our FOX News Service and CNN, where we also have a news service contract. It also aired on the FOX News Channel, CNN, MSNBC, BBC World, and the other local television stations in our area.
In our 10 pm newscast, we try to present a broad view of the events taking place not only in our communities and the United States, but across the globe. Our objective is to provide to our viewers the information that comes to us on a daily basis. By offering an hour of evening news we can provide more stories. We do not expect everyone to agree with every story we place in a newscast.
But we feel, it is better to inform our viewers this is going on somewhere in the world than to ignore the cultural differences outside of our lives.
I do believe that our viewers are intelligent enough to understand that this ritual should not duplicated in our society, nor would it be tolerated.
Thank you for your thoughts.
Mr. News Director
Mr. New Director:
Your comment that what Fox Local News tries to do is "present a broad view of the event taking place not only in our communities and the United States, but across the globe" is almost ludicrous on its face.
If the baby story had been aired with a context of here's what the cultural norms are in India, here's how some Indians view their children, here's what Hindus believe on a given subject, and THEN showed the dropping babies story, I might be convinced.
But, the typical approach of Fox Local News is to give 4 teasers about an upcoming story, and then finally air the story for 30 seconds. No context is given, no greater understanding of the world. In fact, what you do is the exact opposite of what you claim: you really show video that has shock appeal and give almost NO understanding of why what is shown on the video might be happening. So people in central Pennsylvania can walk away from the news shaking their heads and saying what crazy people those folks in India are.
I have not looked up the other news sources you cited (CNN or BBC) to see if and how they presented this story, but I will.
I appreciate the answer, but I do find it unsatisfying to my primary concern--video shown simply because of its shock value.
Yes, to all my astute readers who mutter--hasn't she had this battle before? I have written about it, here and here in relation to weather forecasting. Yes, it's a perennial itch of mine that I just can't get scratched! Thanks for listening. . .stay tuned!