If one only receives their news via the evening broadcasts from the three main networks it is most likely there is no awareness about a long list of international events that are shaping regions of the world. I am clearly aware of the enormity of the COVID-19 pandemic and the many tentacles it has on all parts of the nation. I am also aware of the need to report and juggle events within the roughly 22 minutes allotted for the nightly broadcasts. But it also goes without saying that news programming needs to adapt during this time of pandemic so the events from Poland to Hong Kong also get covered.
If everyone read a morning newspaper there would be less reason to find concern about the absence from ABC, CBS, or NBC about events that not only impact large swaths of the world but also impact international policy decisions our nation is then required to make. A well-informed citizenry aids in shaping our national discussion on the issues which our leaders will then be offering a response.
I wrote about the actions nations like China, North Korea, and Iran have been undertaking over the past months, as they hoped a pandemic and the lack of ability from our president would allow them to get away with their long-held desires. In April I summed up a post entry with these two paragraphs.
There is no doubt that international players are watching the United States very closely as this pandemic takes hold of the country. They are most conscious about the lack of leadership exhibited from this White House. It is troubling to see so many rogue players and confrontational nations seeming to wish to take moves that run counter to international norms.
While there is a lack of credible leadership in the White House there will be those who take advantage of the existing circumstances. At the fringes that is what we are seeing play out on the world stage. It is not something we can dismiss, and it is not something that the television news media in this nation should fail to report. We need to be aware of international events, even during a pandemic.
A most draconian national security law imposed by Beijing has left Hong Kong in a most perilous position. Those living in the city can now be jailed for life for vaguely defined laws. What China deems “subversive” can mean not only a citizen of the city can be forced to the mainland for trial but jailed for decades over the most bizarre of reasons.
A truly important election is taking place this weekend in Poland, where the outcome could signal the beginning of the end of right-wing and illiberal democratic governments in Eastern Europe. (Illiberal democracy is a topic of importance on CP) Those who follow the trend lines over the past years can attest to the dangerous outcomes for democracy when the press is vilified, courts turn out rulings dictated by oppressive rulers, and human rights are tossed aside like old bread. Warsaw Mayor Trzaskowski is seeking to remove the right-wing incumbent President Duda. The outcome is vital to the international tide of democracy that needs restoration.
If a news story on a major network started out with the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, when completed, being nearly twice as tall as the Statue of Liberty and as wide as the Brooklyn Bridge is long or that the reservoir behind it is roughly the size of London, viewers would pay attention. Once operating the dam will be the largest hydro-electric project in Africa. It will produce 6,000 megawatts of electricity, but a massive dispute with Egypt and Ethiopia and Sudan has prompted threats of war and concerns about a future conflict over water resources under pressure because of climate change.
The world is filled with these types of news stories that we need to know about and with newspapers and newsmagazines, many people are better informed. But there is a huge swath of the public who rely upon television network news for their source of information. And that demographic is not prone to tune in to PBS’ NewsHour. So it is incumbent that the three main networks find a better use of the time allotted to them in the evening.
Increasing the length of their national newscast is not an option due to the importance of local advertisers to affiliates around the nation. Going without advertisers on the national broadcast would add about 8 minutes of content. If there would be just a cold opening without a playlist of upcoming stories, and also jettisoning the ‘feel good’ story at the end of each broadcast would add at least 3 minutes of airtime for actual news content.
There must be a better way to inform those who tune in to the evening broadcasts and rely on it for most of their knowledge about the world. The recent past underscores why there needs to be a better-informed citizenry, which then allows for a better performing electorate.
And so it goes.