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

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

No pictures, no story

Here's a perfect example of what's wrong with television news:

When a commuter jet carrying 49 people crashed into a house in suburban Buffalo in February - killing everyone on board and one person in the house - the major cable news outlets (CNN, MSNBC and Fox) covered the story nearly non-stop for 24 hours.

When an Air France jet carrying more than 220 people disappeared over the Atlantic Ocean early Monday, cable's Big Three mentioned the story about once every half hour but then moved on to other things.

The difference? Video.

The February crash happened in a populated area, near a big city, and there was a virtually endless supply of video footage to accompany the story: the burning wreckage, emergency workers at the scene, stunned neighbors, government and emergency officials mugging for the camera, and so on.

Monday's presumed crash, on the other hand, happened hundreds of miles out to sea, providing no video opportunities whatsoever - save for a couple of press conferences in Brazil, where the plane departed, and France, where it was headed.

In other words:
Good video = continuous coverage.
No video = almost no coverage.

This is how the importance of a news story is decided? Yikes.

And its makes me wonder: If TV news had existed in 1912, would the sinking of the Titanic have merited more than a passing mention?



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