Opinion: Why Local TV News 'Sucks'

A columnist at Jacksonville tabloid Folio Weekly gives local news a big thumbs down, saying it's obsessed with weather, crime and sports, and short on deep dives and political coverage.

AG Gancarski wonders "Why Local TV News Sucks". It's an opinion piece that could've used a few facts and figures to support his viewpoint.

He writes:

Action News has been the combined news operation of WAWS and WTEV for the last five years. First Coast News, the infotainment wing of WJXX and WTLV, is owned, along with the stations, by Gannett, and has been a shared operation for 15 years now.

Both these news outfits are owned by powerful holding companies with real agendas and no real interest in anything local, beyond what's best for business. They share reporters and reportage, editorial perspectives, sponsors and sets, and everything that makes a newscast a newscast.

Cox picked up WTEV and WAWS from Newport a few years ago.

Gancarski takes down Post-Newsweek's WJXT too. It's worth noting that WJXT is an independent, splitting with CBS over a decade ago. 

WJXT is the only outfit in town that isn't part of a duopoly; still, it's owned and controlled by the gentle folks at the Post-Newsweek Stations. By far, WJXT has the most news programming per day: a five-and-a-half-hour morning show every day, a noon newscast, two hours in the early evening and an hour-and-a-half at night. That's nine-and-a-half-hours of programming. But what fills it?

A few "if it bleeds, it leads" stories — shootings and such — with national and global stories surrounding them.

Gancarski reaches out to a former local TV reporter, Cathi Carson, to ask why it's so sucky. She says:

"The problem with local news is they are hyper-focused on the competition instead of the content. The average viewer is not watching all three news outlets at the same time. They don't care if one station had the story two minutes before the other. Somewhere along the way, the race to beat the other stations became the guiding force in local news."

Michael Malone

Michael Malone is content director at B+C and Multichannel News. He joined B+C in 2005 and has covered network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television, including writing the "Local News Close-Up" market profiles. He also hosted the podcasts "Busted Pilot" and "Series Business." His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The L.A. Times, The Boston Globe and New York magazine.