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items tagged with television news

Television, Football, and Politics: Gaming Spectacles Designed to Keep the Police State in Power
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Commentary/Politics

Category: Guest Commentaries

2016-02-03 14:53:28
“Big Brother does not watch us, by his choice. We watch him, by ours. There is no need for wardens or gates or Ministries of Truth. When a population becomes distracted by trivia, when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainments, when serious public conversation becomes a form of baby-talk, when, in short, a people become an audience and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk; a culture-death is a clear possibility.” – Professor Neil Postman

If there are two spectacles that are almost guaranteed to render Americans passive viewers, incapable of doing little more than cheering on their respective teams, it’s football and politics – specifically, the Super Bowl and the quadrennial presidential election.

Both football and politics encourage zealous devotion among their followers, both create manufactured divisions that alienate one group of devotees from another, and both result in a strange sort of tunnel vision that leaves the viewer oblivious to anything else going on around them apart from the “big game.”

Both football and politics are televised, big-money, advertising-driven exercises in how to cultivate a nation of armchair enthusiasts who are content to sit, watch, and be entertained, all the while convincing themselves that they are active contributors to the outcome. Even the season schedules are similar in football and politics: the weekly playoffs, the blow-by-blow recaps, the betting pools and speculation, the conferences, and then the final big championship game.

In the same way, both championship events are costly entertainment extravaganzas that feed the nation’s appetite for competition, consumerism, and carnival-esque stunts. In both scenarios, cities bid for the privilege of hosting key athletic and political events. For example, San Francisco had to raise close to $50 million just to host the 50th Super Bowl, with its deluxe stadium, Super Bowl City, free fan village, interactive theme park, and free Alicia Keys concert, not including the additional $5-million cost to taxpayers for extra security. Likewise, it costs cities more than $60 million to host the national presidential-nominating conventions for the Republicans and Democrats.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that there is anything wrong with enjoying the entertainment that is football or politics.

However, where we go wrong as a society is when we become armchair quarterbacks, so completely immersed in the Big Game or the Big Campaign that we are easily controlled by the powers-that-be – the mega-corporations that run both shows – and oblivious to what is really going on around us.


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A Prescription for Local Television News: What Ails Our Newscasts, and Some Suggestions to Fix Them
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: News/Features

Category: Media

2014-02-06 15:09:56

(Listen to Jeff Ignatius discuss this article on WVIK’s “Midwest Week” here.)

I come to praise local television news, not to bury it.

Okay, there won’t be much praise, and there will be some burying. But I bastardize and invert the famous line from Julius Caesar for a reason: My goal isn’t to criticize and mock the newscasts of the four Quad Cities television stations; I want instead to help make them better.

But before one can prescribe, one needs to diagnose what ails the patient. And before diagnosis, one needs to establish the basic state of health.


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Ted Rall: What a Phony!
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Lifestyle

Category: Ted Rall

2011-05-13 11:09:14


Ted Rall: Anniversary Fever!
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Lifestyle

Category: Ted Rall

2011-04-22 11:50:49


Has WQAD’s Sweeps Ploy Made a Better Newscast?
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: News/Features

Category: Media

2011-02-17 15:53:42

In October, I took a snapshot of local television news by watching and analyzing four nights of 10 p.m. newscasts by the four primary commercial Quad Cities stations. I was, admittedly, harsh on WQAD, saying that the ABC affiliate was “stunningly weak in local news.”

So when WQAD announced that in February, its Monday late-night newscasts would feature “35 minutes of news, weather, and local-sports content with no interruptions,” I was intrigued.

At the outset, it’s important to note that this is clearly a stunt for the February sweeps. If WQAD can attract more viewers – on Mondays specifically, but with the hope that they’ll stick around the other six days of the week – it can charge more for advertising, which over the long haul would more than make up for the lost revenue on four Mondays.

But as sweeps stunts go, this is a ballsy and encouraging gambit. Rather than sensational coverage or giveaways, WQAD seemed to be promising a better newscast.


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