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By Jeremy Schiffres, Daily and Sunday Freeman, Kingston, N.Y.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

TV's one-track mind

I have a confession to make: I get some of my news each day from television. (A shocking revelation from a lifelong newspaper guy, I know.)

I find television news informative, sometime even relevant.

But tragedies like last week's plane crash near Buffalo prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that newspapers are far better than television at keeping people informed.

Yes, TV has the advantage of being able to show moving pictures and provide up-to-the-minute information, but when a plane crash or some other tragedy occurs, the all-news TV networks (CNN, MSNBC and Fox) make the mistake of covering nothing but that one big story.

Anyone watching the cable TV news outlets last Friday was left to believe the Buffalo crash was the only thing going on the world. Never mind such other important stories as the final votes on the economic stimulus plan or a suicide bombing in Iraq that killed 40 people; as far as CNN, MSNBC and Fox were concerned, the agenda for the day was "all plane crash, all the time" - even if there was no new information to report for hours at a time.

Newspapers, on the other hand, recognized the plane crash for what it was: a big story, but not the only story of the day. At the Freeman, for example, we ran a photo montage from the plane crash on our front page, a main story (with photo and map) on page B1 and a few related stories on page B3. But all the remaining space in the paper was devoted to the other stories of the day. Because, after all, there was other news to report.

And most other newspapers - those near the crash site notwithstanding - handled the plane crash about the same way we did.

Too bad TV news execs didn't have the sense to see things our way.



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