Ted Koppel weighs in on the state of television news and he doesn’t hold back. One key point, however, is not of critique but of strategy. He asks why television news operations seek to reach a demographic (18 to 34-year-olds) that seems uninterested in the offering while abandoning the demographic (Boomers) who have the spending power and numbers.
Beyond his justified criticism of the state of journalism as practiced on television news, this question of demographics is particularly important. It’s not limited to journalism. It’s a common theme across many media.
According to Dr. Mary Furlong, boomers are 78 million strong. Their spending power is 78 trillion dollars and they will grow by 16 million in this decade. This demographic is being abandoned as television news operations attempt to get the attention of younger viewers who don’t get their information from traditional media.
Koppel also questions the current emphasis on giving the audience what it wants–or at least what the programmers think it wants. One result that concerns me greatly is the demise of coverage of important civic, political and international news. Foreign correspondents are a thing of the past, according to Koppel. Foreign bureaus have been cut back by most of the major news operations. At a time when globalization is continuing apace, U.S. audiences are getting even less international information that would help us put global issues into context.
To the argument that news is politically biased, Koppel says the claim misses the point. He says it’s not partisanship that determines the news, it’s profit. It’s the reach for the demographic.
Koppel is one more in a chorus of knowledgeable professionals who are decrying the decline of journalistic content in this new media environment.