May 31, 2016

IF IT BLEATS IT LEADS:

Television Networks Struggle to Provide Equal Airtime in the Era of Trump (MICHAEL M. GRYNBAUM, MAY 30, 2016, NY Times)

Networks are seeking novel ways to maintain balance, like staging voter town halls that provide candidates with equal airtime; seeking a wider spectrum of on-air contributors and campaign surrogates; and bringing more fact-checking into segments, as Jake Tapper has done recently on CNN to some acclaim.

Still, the presence of Mr. Trump can be irresistible, especially in an election in which viewership and advertising rates have soared, generating tens of millions of dollars in additional revenue for an industry threatened by digital competition.

Last week, none of the three major cable news networks -- CNN, Fox News, or MSNBC -- carried Mrs. Clinton's speech to a workers' union in Las Vegas, where she debuted sharp new attack lines against Mr. Trump.

Instead, each chose to broadcast a live feed of an empty podium in North Dakota, on a stage where Mr. Trump was about to speak.

The same discrepancy occurred earlier this month, when the cable networks aired Mr. Trump's address to the National Rifle Association live from start to finish. A speech by Mrs. Clinton in Detroit days later, to a labor union, did not receive the same coverage; all three networks skipped the speech, with Fox News airing a lighthearted segment about a nationwide backlog of cheese.

In interviews, more than a dozen anchors, executives and news producers displayed admiration for Mr. Trump's facility with their medium. Some expressed a bit of soul-searching, admitting unease at the unfiltered exposure he has received, with one anchor describing frustration about being asked to conduct on-air interviews with Mr. Trump by telephone, rather than in person. But several offered the defense that whatever viewers make of Mr. Trump, he is undoubtedly newsworthy -- and always accessible.

Posted by at May 31, 2016 8:21 PM

  

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