Thursday, August 28, 2008

Adding value

Here's an angry diary at dKos about television coverage on the liberally-beloved MSNBC.

There's a reason why I don't watch TV anymore; actually, there are a bunch of reasons. First, commercials suck. 15-20 minutes of every hour of programming is commercials. Second, a lot of the programming sucks. And third, the programming that doesn't suck is available through other means: good shows end up on the iTunes store or come out on DVD. (Alternatively, you can get a Tivo).

But news shows are particularly bad because of three factors. First, news shows hire commentators who have agendas. To make up for this they tend to have multiple people on with agendas, as if an increased volume of opinion will actually create insight. Instead it creates rather boring TV where the emotional drama is about ideology and not about a story or a recognizable human relationship. Second, these pundits tend to obsess about process and ignore objectives. It may have been funny to watch cable TV news channels twitter about madly trying to guess Obama's VP choice, but it actually makes for uninformative TV. And third, cable TV shows have bought into the mistaken idea that their job is to provide value above and beyond reporting the news: which is why every cable TV channel provides extensive commentary. The reality is, the power of TV is its ability to show the news, in real time, in pictures. Anything beyond that tends to distract from its true value.