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Repetition in the news

Posted by: | December 8, 2009 | 1 Comment |
from DirecTV.com

from DirecTV.com

As Mitchell Stephens points out in chapter 16 of “A History of News,” much of the news offered today is repetitious. This held some truth before the advent of pay television (cable and satellite) and the Internet. Now, with so many media options available to the audience, stories often feed on themselves and the repetition cycle becomes vicious. The media may operate on a 24/7 cycle but that does not equal 24 hours of information per day.

Blame Gordon McLendon for creating the repetition cycle in the news. McLendon founded North America’s first all-news radio station, XETRA, in 1961 out of Tijuana, Mexico. The station did no original reporting but merely repeated news from the wire services. XETRA was an inspiration for other news stations such as WTOP in Washington, a station that does its own reporting on important city affairs.

In 1980, Ted Turner took the all-news format to television with the creation of the Cable News Network (CNN). Now television viewers did not have to wait until 6 p.m. or 11 p.m. to get their news. While the same in equality existed with having 24 hours of time to fill, CNN had more free reign to cover breaking news compared to the “Big Three” networks. The network demonstrated this with its landmark coverage of the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

Still however, the same inequality exists with the 24/7 media cycle. New information and new news does not always happen all the time. A frequent complaint that Stephens states is that some find it hard to “keep up” with the amount of news available to us at a particular time and on many platforms.

As we have often talked about in class, news abhors a vacuum. Meaning that if the audience feels uninformed about the world, then it will actively seek out the information it wants. All audiences do is feed the media beast by constantly wanting something new and interesting. It is up to the individual person to decide how often he or she wants to tune in. It is also up to the person to tune out when it is just too much.

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