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View from the Edge

Peter Riva of Gila has offered his many years of columns for this online newspaper. His writings have been published in East Coast newspapers, and he decided to share them with the Beat and you, our readers.

Date: Oct. 4, 2017

What is the news? According to Bill Paley, founder of CBS, you need a balance in broadcasting; one side as entertainment, like Frank Sinatra, and the other as news, like Edward R. Murrow. Fred Friendly, the ex-head of CBS news once said, “Television makes so much [money] at its worst that it can't afford to do its best.” That’s certainly proving to be the case these past weeks.

If you have a mind to, watch the morning and evening news with a stopwatch. Of the half hour news in the evening, you will find that the 30 minutes are actually 21 minutes when you remove commercials. Then you will find the 5 main topics for the evening are covered in under 6 minutes collectively. The rest is feature pieces, feel-good segments at the end, all meant to entertain you, hold your interest, keep viewers happy and buying commercial products (news is controlled by the marketing departments these days). When the evening news was broadcast in the early ‘70s, the coverage of the Vietnam conflict occupied 15 minutes a night, unless testimony on Watergate took priority. Nothing used to be glanced over, no fighting American story had to give way for a snow fall, forest fire, or cat chasing away a kid being attacked by a stray dog on the family driveway.