Dan Bobkoff, who covers Massachusetts for Albany, N.Y.-based WAMC/Northeast Public Radio, has written a piece for CBS News's Public Eye blog in which he offers ideas for reform of the broadcast networks' evening newscasts. (Hat tip: Romenesko.) Bobkoff, a former intern for ABC's World News Tonight, opines:
...I think the shows should try to become as different from one another as possible.
The first step toward originality would be to turn off all the TV's in the newsroom. Producers love watching the "competition" on a row of monitors while they work, and will note with glee if they air an important story five minutes before another network. But watching each other doesn't create a better product; it creates sameness.
After they turn off the TV’s, they should cancel their subscriptions to The New York Times. The paper's great, but it shouldn't be TV's job to read the paper and then steal the feature stories for that evening’s newscast (unusual baby names, ABC?)
With nothing to copy off the TV or from the papers, the newscasts then could think about broadening what they cover...
So far, so good. I'd imagine that most NewsBusters readers would welcome a reasonable reduction in both that "sameness" -- for decades, network news's herd mentality has been a liberal mentality -- and in the NYT's influence over the nightly newscasts.
After that, however, Bobkoff merely gasses about "new storytelling techniques" and how "the evening news must become the place for context -- not just headlines," and wonders why, "on a slow news day," a network shouldn't "break with convention and show a 10-minute story about, for instance, how life is changing in China." In other words, a news reporter for public radio believes the nightly news should be more like...public radio. Shocking.
Bobkoff's truly glaring omission is that of liberal bias. (Glaring, but unsurprising, given where he works.) You'd think that one obvious way to cut down on the "sameness" would be for one of the networks to begin dealing with news in a completely evenhanded manner, but he doesn't suggest that.