Saturday, January 13, 2007

Talking Head Feud

This segment by NPR is a parody on an apparent feud between MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann and FOX News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly. Modeled after VH1’s Behind The Music, the parody portrays the history of the dispute as silly and the talking heads as vain.

After getting some background information about the feud, I found that it began around the same time Olbermann was placed in the same timeslot as O’Reilly. Keith’s show has a segment titled “Worst Person in the World,” in which O’Reilly has been named at least 16 times. O’Reilly has a segment called “The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day,” in which he defends himself and tries to degrade Olbermann often. O’Reilly also, allegedly, banned Olbermann’s name from being said on his radio program and will arrest any caller who does so. Talk about harsh!

The two shows express two vastly different views: Keith is liberal and Bill is conservative. Though the two men never come out and say where their loyalties lie, it’s only inferred. But they are loved by their audiences.

NPR brings to the radio every day various news reports from all sides of the political spectrum. Their segments are engaging and thought provoking. I think NPR is poking fun at these two shows because it knows they aren’t “real” news shows, and they won’t be because they want big audiences. Maybe not each other’s audiences (since they are targeting different households), but each host needs to be as sensational, explosive and as “in your face” as possible to obtain the most viewers. Big audiences mean big ratings, and big ratings mean big money.

NPR doesn’t have to worry about ratings. They just have to worry about scheduling enough pledge drives to annoy their audience members. But that’s neither here nor there.

NPR believes that news doesn't have room for opinion. Of course there are shows in which opinion is given on NPR, but this can never be compared to the biased programming of cable news channels.

Olbermann and O'Reilly are polarizing, but loyal to their audiences. They say they’re bringing the truth to their audiences, but they seem to do it through their opinions. Does anyone else see the fallacy in this? I rather get the truth myself, with the help of NPR, not through these so-called “journalists.”



At Sunday, January 14, 2007, Blogger Medill Media Watch said...

I think there is room for opinion - for instance, the roundtable on This Week with George Stephanopoulos. I've forced myself to watch Bill O'Reilly. He spends an awful lot of time attacking people who don't like him and acting like a child. That's definitely not news, nor is it useful opinion. I think people watch him because they take comfort in having their views broadcast back to them.


At Sunday, January 14, 2007, Blogger Medill Media Watch said...

I think there will always be a time and place for opinion and news and a rare time or place when opinions aren't in some way shape or form infused within the news. It's a challenge for every journalist to get the full story, but keep personal feelings out of the mix.

NPR and other public "hard news" and "real" news outlets are not, as JK said, immune to incorporating opinions in their story or even in presenting opinions, generalizations or inaccurate news as truth.

One example regards a Feb. 2006 broadcast on the state of military death penalty. Last quarter I spent an enormous amount of time researching the military death penalty and all of the current 6 members on military death row. I came across the radio broadcast on the death penalty and found tons of flaws and inaccurate policy information presented by the broadcaster. The interviewees were well versed but it seemed that the broadcaster hadn't done any homework on the issue other than to look up his guests' bios and write some quick, irrelevant and misplaced transitions between his speakers.

We should always be skeptical of every story, no matter the news outlet. Even as blooming reporters, we're all aware that there's tons of angles and ways to tell stories, tons of "faces" who would present different and at times, disputing perspectives. Finding whole truth and reporting the whole truth are sometimes not one and the same...and sometimes a close to impossible task.



Post a Comment

<< Home