Monday, May 3, 2010

Why doesn't TV take a civic lead

On Monday, May 3, WGAL-TV, Channel 8, or as they like to call themselves "News 8," published a "truth-meter" report during each newscast following a debate between U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter and his challenger in the upcoming Primary Election, Joe Sestac.

What a nice piece of journalism, doing fact-checking of statements made by both candidates.

The problem is, the station fell far short of its civic responsibilities.

The television station should have broadcast the actual debate to begin with, and then do the fact-check as a follow-up.

Yes, there are a lot of people who don't care. But there are a lot, including me, who do. No, it probably wouldn't generate any revenue for the station (of course, if it had THAT potential, the debtae would have been televised).

The station could have struck a middle-ground here. For those of us who would have wanted to witness the debate, and to minimize the financial "damage" of televising it, the debate could have been aired in the middle of night. Had it been properly promoted ahead of time, I'll bet there would have been a sizable audience in the wee hours.

It would certainly be more important the airing -- and then the repeat airing -- of celebrity diatribe and hype that consume at least three full show periods daily on this station. Movies and plays and music will always be around, but their actions don't directly affect us like the actions of our elected representatives.

Yet we complain and have no trust in our politicians. Well, this is why we have so much political corruption -- on local, state and national levels -- today.

C'mon, television "pioneers," belly-up to the bar of political and social responsibility to your audience.