Ted Koppel has an excellent op-ed in Sunday’s New York Times today about the increasing manner in which network news caters to the desires of advertisers.
Most television news programs are therefore designed to satisfy the perceived appetites of our audiences. That may be not only acceptable but unavoidable in entertainment; in news, however, it is the journalists who should be telling their viewers what is important, not the other way around.
The accusation that television news has a political agenda misses the point. Right now, the main agenda is to give people what they want. It is not partisanship but profitability that shapes what you see.
Reaching across the entire spectrum of American television viewers is precisely the broadcast networks’ greatest strength. By focusing only on key demographics, by choosing to ignore their total viewership, they have surrendered their greatest advantage.