Something happened at KRNV, Reno’s NBC affiliate, on April 8. It was not what they did, but what they didn’t do. Tuesday’s 6 PM newscast of the Sinclair Broadcast Group‘s (SBGI) station didn’t run an anti-government story.
It’s possible it they were just having an off day. It’s possible that NBC has applied pressure to the station to not run Fox News-type stories. It’s possible that the station’s staff has had enough of sacrificing personal reputations for the conservative agenda of their parent organization. It’s possible the parent organization has had an epiphany regarding serving all viewers, not just conservatives. Who knows? Regardless, it was a refreshing change.
The station did run a Sinclair produced story in the ‘A’ Block, but rather than presenting an overt bias, Kai Jackson, a former news anchor on Baltimore’s CBS affiliate WJZ, offered a story about the cost of extending unemployment benefits. Jackson, who joined Sinclair in December 2013, pointed out that $500 billion have been spent on unemployment benefits since 2008, which is an issue that connects with the conservative viewer. He then he offered the viewpoint of a small business person who says that the money has a positive impact on his revenue as it flows into America’s economy.
One could argue that the issue itself is more of a concern by Republicans, but that is not accurate. Democrats and liberals understand that unemployment benefits are not a long-term solution; however, the money paid out to the unemployed is not lost. It flows through the economy, which is also important. Jackson presentation of the issues was fair and educated conservatives and liberals on the complexity of the problem.
What Jackson didn’t do was line up a long list of rabid conservative ‘experts’ to manipulate the story, nor did he indicate his personal spin on the issue.
Giving the Viewer What They Want or What They Need?
A news team can either manipulate news to invoke an emotional response, or they can work to educate the viewer on the issues of the day and let the viewer decide how they feel about those topics. In the case of the former the news is sexy and entertaining. In the latter case the news is less emotional and requires more intelligent thought.
The excuse that Fox News-type reporting is just giving the viewer what he or she wants is same rationale of a drug dealer or prostitute. Reporting news should not be an attempt to manipulate emotions. News shouldn’t be anti-government, nor should it be pro-government. This does not mean that news has to be neutral, just that it can’t be driven by a political agenda.
The conservative and liberal views in the United States are both essential to our prosperity. Both viewpoints tend to carve out policies that succeed. A perfect example is the Affordable Care Act (ACA.) It was the health care reform proposed by the Heritage Foundation decades before it became law under President Obama’s administration. Despite Fox News stories that are trying to paint ACA as a disaster, the facts indicate that the number of uninsured people has dropped significantly and the program is actually succeeding.
A local television news organization is not a blog. It operates under the rules created by the FCC to protect the public trust. For whatever reason, yesterday KRNV rose to the expectations of that public trust.