“Cable Network News? It’s Changing.”

March 29, 2014:

If you are living outside the U.S., you might not be noticing this yet, or at all. When I moved back from out of country a few years ago, one of the first things I noticed that had changed while I was gone, was "where is the cable national News"????

Have you noticed that mainstream national news fixates on a story and beats it to a pulp? "Talking heads" discussions and endless inquiries into the same questions is supposed to now be news.

National cable network news has stopped offering "news". Instead, it is back to back news coverage during the first few morning hours, then fast being diluted into  "talking head experts",  "old replays of video", "breaking news - 'cry wolf' announcements - only to find out it is "old news" from several hours or days ago, or such a minor update that it shouldn't qualify as "breaking news".

Meanwhile, the news stories we need to hear, are not being covered! Is it budget cutbacks? A news blackout? Where is our news?

The  24/7 news cycle is gone on national news stations. Now, by mid-morning on one national station, for example, we are treated to endless minute by minute trial coverage (why??) from Florida, Arizona, and now South Africa, or other channels: resurrected stories of replayed documentaries, prison stories, or worse "non news reruns". And if that is not enough, in the case of the trial coverage, it is all re-hashed again in the evening for us in mock -trials, or more "talking heads".

Here's a present example of a very tragic story unfolding slowly: Presently there is extensive coverage on the missing Malaysian Airlines flight 370. Experts being interviewed explain it will be 'at least 660 work-days, non-stop, no breaks, no down time, at the earliest to be able to search the amount of square kilometres in the area being searched now.' (CNN 3/29/14 - this morning). So - why national news stations, are we getting a blow-by-blow ongoing hour by hour full time  - barely covering any other stories on the missing airlines story? At what point will your "news-deciders" realize this is now a "human interest story" - not "news"? It becomes news if the searchers a) find plane debris - not trash...actually identified plane debris field, and b) find the downed plane or c) find out the plane actually "did" land somewhere. (Could it have made it to land in Australia - if it could make it 1-2 hours offshore from Perth? )


My complaint: The definition of "news", and "what is news-worthy, or worthy of being called "breaking news" is shifting. The definiti0n lines are being blurred between:

* News

* Editorial

* Interviews

* Discussions

* Analysis

* Debates

* Documentary

* Pre-Recorded Video that says "Live" in the lower left bottom corner  - that isn't "live" coverage. It was recorded from "live" hours or days ago.

It is not ALL News. It just isn't. Yet, it is all being treated as news, filling our cable news programing.


I'm noticing now that it seems "perhaps that news viewership is falling off". This past week the talking head experts have become "more fair-skinned", it seems. Some national news stations are trotting out quick interviews with blond widows of past husbands killed in plane crashes. Do they need to change races of people being interviewed to keep the American audience interested in this story? I'm being bold to bring this up - but behind the scenes, are the stations making this news-story race-shift to bring in more audience?  Or  - is it that we only had, I believe, one American on board the Malaysian flight, so they need to "American -ize" the story somehow?

Even the horrific mudslide in Oso, WA (U.S.) is more of a news story than the presumed down Malaysian Airlines plane. This nightmarish story at least has "action" breaking throughout the day, slowly, but there is action. I don't need a minute by minute, or hour by hour update, but I would like a daily update, please.  They found a dog "family member" alive recently.

Before these two stories, it was endless discussion on Obamacare and "breaking news". Rarely was it ever "breaking news".

At a national level we, as a viewing and listening U.S. audience,  are being for lack of a better word, "compartmentalized". We are being forced back to watching local news to get our stories. We are hearing less and less of interesting real breaking news stories from other cities. We are being forced to catch these stories by monitoring the Internet and looking on multiple city news websites.

Where is our News? What stories would we be shocked and really care about - - if we only knew about what was happening? How would these stories influence our decision-making today? Our voting tomorrow? Why aren't these stories coming out?

I'll give you an example of a rare piece of "news" I caught on CNN ( I do love CNN, but also watch all the big four national stations: CNN & HLN, Fox, and MSNBC).  A politician from Tennessee was talking about how most people in Kentucky, over age 50,  will have to go on Medicaid, and they are home owners. She was showing compassion and concern because they probably could or will lose their properties through the Medicaid five-year state look-back, and it will affect inheritance to their adult children. That to me, was a "news story" worth talking about - -- how many other states' residents are facing this? No one is talking about California trying to take away individual rights and force people on to Medi-Cal, the state version of Medicaid.

I have had a love for cable network news for decades, and especially valued being able to turn on the news anytime of day to catch up. Directly because of the availability of obtaining the news when and where I wanted it, I developed a passion for "trend-tracking", "forecasting" - in general monitoring then arm-chair predicting where stories would lead, or develop, and eventually began noticing effects of how two or more news stories or trends would intersect, creating "trifecta" or larger effects. Life became perhaps a bit more detached, but I still loved watching the stories unfold and the giant puzzle pieces align, then move around.

I want my news back. I'm tired of having to go to Canadian news websites to get U.S. news.

I'm tired of listening to different "experts" say the same information over and over on the same story.

I'm tired of non-news being labeled as "breaking news". When there really is a breaking news story we all have to watch, we will be so desensitized to what is happening we won't be watching or perking up our ears. Is this what your goal is - numb out your viewing and listening audience?

The national news stations, knowingly, or unconsciously, are forcing us news listeners and viewers into cocooning and becoming much less aware of our country as a whole.  This is directly affecting our ability to vote responsibly. To me, to be a "responsible voter on national elections", I want to know what is happening in other states and U.S. territories, because I CARE! The decision I make if I wanted to be "self-serving" might be very different if I knew in the bigger picture my preference could have a negative impact on many other people. For me, the "best for most" is my first choice, even if I might be as happy in the short run.

I believe we all win if we come together as "community", and have concern for each other and help each other. Dumbing down U.S. news, reporting ad nauseum on non-news news regurgitation does not encourage "community". Instead, it encourages turning off the t.v. and focusing just on ourselves, or our family. "Ostrich -thinking/ ostrich-knowledge" doesn't work for the long run. We need to know what is happening in our country. If America is going to survive as a country, we need to have citizens  - and residents - care about national issues, and take an interest in growing and getting trained in leadership roles.


Granted, I am a self-declared "geek" or "nerd", maybe a bit of both. I have a passion for new watching and learning as much as I can on many national topics, as fast as I can. I monitor change and thrive on "change".  I want to study and come up with possible solutions to national problems.

Many other Americans also have interests and skills to observe and track news, too. We need access to information to do this. I can't emphasize enough that our country is better off with stronger, brighter, better informed decision-makers and voters.

I don't want to go through "talking heads" to get my news. I want to hear it directly, and form my own conclusions based on evidence, not opinions. I want to see my neighbors, their kids, my community residents also have the capacity to understand, and have knowledge of national issues so together we make the U.S. a stronger country.

I want my national news coverage back.

And yes, "I'm one of the "talking heads". What I am not -  I am NOT "News".


Best in News Programming - My Favorites in the U.S. Cable Market: (not ranked - just my favorites for integrity in reporting)

CNN: http://www.cnn.com/sitemap/shows/

Anderson Cooper - "AC 360" ("does it all", news, interviews, commentary, and reports from on assignment - one of the best news journalists of my generation), Candy Crowley "State of the Nation" (interviews and high-level discussion) ,  Fareed Zariah GPS - "foreign affairs" (interviews, discussion, indepth analysis - brilliant man! I wish his show was on every night. You probably could get to a point where you could pass a "foreign service exam" for State Department watching this show - excellence in television!), Dr. Sanjay Gupta (mostly medical documentaries and discussion), John King USA (usually real news), Ashleigh Banfield - "American Morning" (real news).
Excellent Reporters and Sub-Hosts: Christiane Armanpour

HLN: Morning News: (If you have the time, this is your opportunity to learn to track news stories as these change or get sanitized.  HLN may remind you of asking a kid "Tell me what happened." You get one version, and if you let the story keep coming out, it will end up somewhere else.  HLN is raw news as it breaks - sadly it is getting cut back more and more. Even the name of the station "Headline News"  was re-branded HLN. Sad. It did it's job so well.) Dr. Drew Pinsky - "Dr. Drew" (talking heads or re-hash of court hearings of the day - when it is really good it is "great", when it gets too "talking heads" -ish and just a rehash of dribble, I change channels. Still, I give him high marks because when it seems he has something he really wants to cover he just a really, really great job of getting it done.) HLN has other non-news great shows, but I am reviewing news programming here.

MSNBC: Rachel Maddow - (excellent - she is an in depth news researcher and she is awesome about ferreting out news and paying close attention to sub-text which should be headline news ...that other stations are brushing under the rug. Get ready for "blunt" - she calls it as she sees it - Rachel would be awesome as a Senator, or maybe even as a future President,  but I fear she might become bored or limited. Cudos for MSNBC for hiring her - bold move and as a station you scored BIG! I don't know her dreams, but I think she will make them happen.) Chris Matthews (when he doesn't get "all riled up" - I really enjoy listening to him. He's analytical, wise and deep.)

Fox News: Greta Van Susteren - "On the Record" ( very good show consistently. She is a lawyer and goes into depth on news discussion and analysis), Bill Hemmer - "America's Newsroom" (CNN's loss when both Greta and Bill went to Fox News a few years back. Both are excellent at what they do.)





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Caesi Bevis, Author / Speaker Bio

Bevis Consulting

Bevis Consulting

Principal of Bevis Consulting. I am a Futurist, Research Writer, Public Speaker, Voice Over Professional, Consultant, and Expert Witness with over 20+ years background in competitive intelligence, market research, and 13+ years in legislation research and consulting in both the U.S. and Canada. My marketing expertise in recent years includes social network and Internet marketing. I am the former President of the Canadian Business Intelligence Association. My PhD coursework is in Human Behavior Leadership, with an MBA with an International Finance focus, BBA with core courses in Marketing and AA in Advertising Design.

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