I ask this after watching the news the other night. The Canadian team had beaten another team by eight to one. In the one-hour news program, this fact was presented four separate times. The same video clip was used repeatedly as well.
I have a sick sort of game I play when watching a Canadian local news channel: I try to find the most-copied clip. I think the record is five times, but I might have slept through additional repetitions.
Some other things the news stations do to avoid real content:
- Talking heads. “This has been me, standing here at this corner. Back to you, sitting there in the studio”. There is no content in these cute little hand-offs.
- Logos and logo-like shots. Panning around the studio, playing a standard introduction. “These are the voyages of the star ship …. ” Again, no content.
- Really dumb interviews. There is a special vocabulary for wine tasters. There is a sort of inverse special vocabulary for sports team members. words like execute, but mostly monosyllabic. Either the team won or lost. They are either happy with how they played or are not. It does not take three team member interviews to communicate this.
- Playing the same “big” story to the hilt. If there is a disaster in Japan, all the economic news gets pushed aside, all the political uprisings and ordered murders in unfortunate countries get pushed aside. If there is a flood, you will see the same footage of running water several times, and sometimes for several days’ worth of “news coverage.”
Real content must be very expensive to create. Real advertising must contribute very small fees, so we need so much of it to be profitable. Or do we?
A cynic might suggest that the TV stations know their days are numbered, and are cashing in on our credulous watching of thin, poorly-made content sandwiched by extensive, carefully and manipulatively crafted commercials.