Jerry Dunklee -- Broadcasting & Cable, 6/25/2000 8:00:00 PM
Broadcasters dodge editorials by not staffing commentators
Editor: Your editorial about broadcast TV editorials is misguided. You blame the Fairness Doctrine and fear of regulators, then you decide it's really the profit motive of the large owners that reduces serious editorializing on TV.
Gosh, I thought big media had lots of power. You mean, after spending all that lobbying money to gut regulation, these big boys are afraid? Please.
These same owners fill the airwaves with highly opinionated talk shows that seldom air the other sides of important political issues. They air shock jocks on radio. Why would they be afraid of editorials?
They don't do editorials much these days because most don't want to pay the salaries of people to research and write them. Most stations broadcast to local markets. The owners live elsewhere and simply don't care about local problems. Their concept of "public interest" is what's in their financial interest.
By the way, there's nothing wrong with "decrying potholes and saluting the Boy Scouts." Nor is it wrong to excoriate the Scouts or praise the highway department when it does a good job. Something, anything, which reflects the local community would be better than the current void.
Part of being a responsible broadcaster is to take heat for decisions you make. Avoiding that responsibility by employing silence serves no interest but the substantial profits of the owners. They aren't "holding their tongues." They're holding their wallets.-Jerry Dunklee, Chair, Journalism Department, Southern Connecticut State University, Former Judge of the Society of Professional Journalists TV Editorial Contest
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