Rabel Rousing in West Virginia: Is Local TV News a 'Waste of Time'?

Part of me hates to give this guy another platform to rant from, but I thought I’d share the following commentary from TV newsman Ed Rabel. His “Local TV ‘News’ is a Waste of Time” essay ran in the West Virginia Gazette late last week.

A former NBC News and CBS News correspondent, Rabel writes:

I would say the so-called newscasts are a colossal waste of time. Basically, the items they flog as news are merely undemanding fillers located between used-car commercials and mattress ads. Not to mention the announcements for male enhancement.  

Rabel raises some valid points, including that there are too many car crash and home fire stories and non newsy weather reports done up as breaking news.

But the essay is so half-baked; corny jokes and a lack of evidence to corroborate Rabel’s points make the essay read more like something a humorist penning a column at a middling newspaper would come up with, not the thought-out perspective of a veteran journalist.

He writes:

The local television “news” landscape is populated by bubble-heads and glib, young, sometimes pretty know-nothings. The truth is, they wouldn’t know a news story if it slapped them in the face.  

Uh, like who? Can we really say that about everyone working in local TV?

Rabel then puts forth this roundhouse right:

There are reasons you don’t get the news on local TV. Station owners and managers forbid their news departments from stepping on toes and ruffling feathers, out of fear that such stories might insult local advertisers or offend politicians on whose toes reporters might stomp. 

OK, who? Name names!

As every journalism student knows, show us–don’t tell us.

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.