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The News Is The News

There has been much discussion around the recent NPR “whistle blower”, Uri Berliner, making accusations that position NPR as purposely leaning liberal. That statement shocked no one. What was a concern is that Berliner pointed out multiple instances where follow-ups to stories were buried, because they may help a conservative politician. The suppression of stories is a damning accusation. One that National Public Radio has been above for its’ known existence.

NPR was thought by some to be the last remaining credible news source for electronic media. The challenge they have is to avoid being thought of as being more than a part of the media echo chamber. That’s where likeminded individuals come to hear what they already think. Which is where the rest of the national brands live when it comes to messaging to their audiences.

My comments here are not about politics, but rather news content that touches the topic of politics. I’m not singling out NPR more than I would Fox News or CNN. In the truest sense of the word, news stories shouldn’t be written to lean one way or another. Story selection can be influenced, dependent on your stations’ audience but when it comes to reporting news,  politics should play no role in presenting the facts. The facts are the facts. Editorial comment doesn’t belong inside of a news story unless you’re flagging it as an editorial. I can’t remember when I last heard the word “Editorial” anywhere.

There is a difference between commentary and news. The talent on News/Talk radio stations, who host programs between the newscasts, are commentators. They are program hosts. Regardless of their lean, they’re presenting their views and those of their guests. Arguably they’re presenting the view of their networks or local programs. It’s why the people in the audience of such programs are listening. It’s a discussion among people whose beliefs are reinforced by the content they listen to, and the purpose of the host is to inform, entertain and engage an audience.

The purpose of the news itself is to provide information that impacts lives, provides a service, or answers a concerning question. Listeners who turn to local radio for news want to know that everything is okay in their world. They want to hear about what will affect their day, their plans, and how they can improve their lives. They’re not looking for the news content to mirror a commentator’s opinion or be fully national in scope. They want you to give them awareness. That’s what news does.

This is going to be a big election year. This Presidential election is the trilogy of three historic races. Everyone has to be on top of their game. Writers, reporters, and hosts. Remember though, the News is the news and isn’t opinion.

The three principles of Information categorized programming:

  1. News; Fact based. Never ignore the BIG stories. Never suppress follow-up stories.

  2. Opinion; Identify it as such. It’s Commentary. No room for commentary inside a newscast.

  3. Content; Focus on what impacts the listener, their family and their inner circle. Be that Local or National. Prioritize by impact.

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