Studying the line between news you need, news you know


Pop quiz, post-news:

You're past the locals' evening rundowns, safely watching "Extra Inside Edition of Entertainment Tonight." On reflection: Have you just been fed news you need to know more than news you needn't know but now know anyway? Useful information (local issues, vital legislation, economic updates) more than useless voyeurism (murders, five-car pileups, a flood eight states away)? Stories that affect your life more than filler that wastes your time?

Endless national surveys cite viewer complaints that in local TV news, what matters is trumped by what doesn't.

Vegas, specifically? No airtight conclusions, given hours (and hours and hours) of news this column couldn't track at once for fear of causing this columnist a nervous disorder. But as a random snapshot, I examined one weeknight newscast per station: Channel 5 at 5:30, Channel 3 and Channel 8 at 6, and Channel 13 at 6:30. Monitoring standard news lineups -- not comparing local vs. nonlocal or dramatic vs. dull, but relevant vs. irrelevant per your daily life -- here are story results:

Channel 5: Four are relevant (including stimulus bucks for unemployment benefits, a state lottery bill, stress-relieving yoga); 12 are irrelevant (including a record sky-dive, roller coaster nuptials, Washington, D.C., bedbug infestation, truck plowing through a Kansas store). Channel 13: Nine are relevant (including education budget, reduced museum hours, McCarran runway reopening, street closures); nine are irrelevant (including child robbers, Florida burglars, a California murder).

Channel 3: Twelve are relevant (including local jobless claims, illegal dumping at the airport hindering ability to improve it, Vegas youth volunteers, stimulus funding for Nevada, impact of local mall bankruptcy on shoppers); six are irrelevant (including Iraqi flower show, a shooting, a murder trial). Channel 8: Eleven are relevant (including smoking ban, community meeting with legislators, free immunizations, local unionizing regarding the Employee Free Choice Act, Summerlin homeowner associations); three are irrelevant (including a CityCenter payment, "Twitter King" Ashton Kutcher).

Decisive relevancy majorities for channels 3 and 8, split decision for Channel 13 and -- partially owing to thinner resources -- an also-ran finish for Channel 5. Combined count: 36 relevant, 30 irrelevant to our lives day to day.

Gauged by this mini-sampling: Our locals land on the plus side of the divide, even if not by a crushing margin and weighted more toward two stations. However much this column focuses on their failings (rough estimate: lots), this spot check suggests they do divine the difference -- and act on it -- between news you merely know and news you really need. Give our news crew their due. And in that spirit. ...

Mea Culpa, O Ginormous One: Last week I criticized Fox-5's John Huck for using "ginormous," saying it's not English. Turns out it's deemed acceptable by some dictionaries. My apologies, John. It's a word.

Today, you get the last one.

Contact reporter Steve Bornfeld at sbornfeld@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0256.

 

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