The production team at Western Reserve Public Media sets out
to find answers.
On the most simple level local news is the bundling
of timely stories with some sports and weather presented in
a period of 30 minutes or an hour. Those constraints alone help
to define the nature of local news.
"We have to find a way collectively in this
building and in our industry to get our message across to people
who want to know what the news is as quickly as they can and
yet as thoroughly as they can, which is sort of at odds with
one another," explains Ted Henry, anchorman at WEWS/Channel
5 (Cleveland). "Some stories are best suited for TV because
we're a visual medium ... [and] some stories with a huge amount
of detail are best suited for newspapers and magazines. Some
stories fall somewhere in between."
Ted Henry is one of several local network affiliate
journalists featured in Western Reserve Public Media's local production,
twentyfourhours. The one-hour documentary is a companion
piece to the national PBS production, Local News.
twentyfourhours is a telling, behind-the-scenes
look at how local news is constructed. Over one 24-hour period,
the documentary follows local news broadcasts to see what each
station deems "important news."
Mark Urycki of Western Reserve Public Media's NewsNight
Akron and WKSU-FM follows up by interviewing journalists
at all the major news stations in the Cleveland and Akron area
to give viewers some insight into how decisions are made and
who makes them. Viewers also see the pressure to get the news
fast, efforts to improve ratings and the struggle to balance
"tabloid" journalism with good civic journalism.
Featured in this broadcast is reporter Alicia
Booth of WOIO/Channel 19. Booth is a former anchor from WCNC,
the station profiled in the national series, Local News.
In North Carolina, she was dismissed from her position because
management said she didn't appeal to their demographics.
Also featured in twentyfourhours are news
director Kathy Williams of WEWS/Channel 5 (Cleveland); reporter
Dick Russ of WKYC/Channel 3 (Cleveland); and Eric Mansfield,
managing editor of Akron's Channel 23 news. Other local anchors,
news directors and reporters will also offer their observations
of the news behind the news.
Viewers will discover how any piece of news is
selected to go to air. Is it a visual story? How "tabloid"
might it appear? How will it affect the ratings? What other
stations are covering it? twentyfourhours explores how
the news is manipulated and packaged for air, using people,
graphics, sets and music that have been specially selected to
appeal to a target audience.
twentyfourhours is a production of Western Reserve Public Media. Executive Producer: Don Freeman; Producer/Director:
Duilio Mariola; Host: Mark Urycki; Writer: Janis Worley
teacher guide (PDF Format)