By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Girl talk

Lisa Williams takes issue with the notion that pandering to women is responsible for the decline of hard news on local television.

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8 Comments

  1. Neil

    It seems like Hamilton simply asserts that if a station wants to appeal to women, it will feature more soft news. Like he doesn’t even think it’s necessary to make the case. I agree with Lisa’s objection, though I wasn’t able to follow her logic about the fixed time devoted to sports.Speaking of which, does anyone dispute that the “soft” nature of Olympics sports coverage is an effort to attract more so-called casual (ie, female) sports fans? Easy on the play-by-play, and heavy on vignettes showing how some brave little athlete overcame adversity to reach the pinnacle, as the violins swell. Sniff! I find the Olympics unwatchable for this reason–too much inspirational piffle, not enough actual event coverage. Is this a typical male reaction? Similarly I couldn’t bear listening to a WNBA game a while ago because the announcers were chatting on about some player’s tough childhood, during play (!) instead of doing the damn play-by-play. Again, for the “casual” fan, I guess.Maybe Hamilton inferred that trend to the more general case of soft news. But it doesn’t follow. You might be able to say that in general, men follow sports more closely than women, but you had better not make the same claim for news, without better evidence than the number of Playboy (!) subscriptions in the area.I gave up on local TV news around the time the flying sheets of Lucite (tip o’ the pin to Zippy) showed up. The news may be soft, but the studios are all hard edges–jacked-up reds and blues like the inside of Tron, and in such faux urgency that they don’t even let the reporters sit down anymore. Easier to dodge all that sharp plastic shit flying around if you’re standing, I guess.

  2. Peter Porcupine

    Neal – The only typically male response about the touching stories is your singling out of the WNBA.I damn near had to turn off the Pro Bowl this year, as the maroons doing the broadcasting were obsessed with blowing kisses at one another instead of describing what was on the field. It made me think of state troopers with their backs to the traffic watching the big Tona trucks instead of watching the snarled traffic.Every facet of sport has been touched with this ‘he had HEART’ syndrome – and not for the better. The rise of victimhood over personal achievement…

  3. Samuel Johnson

    Neil, I found her logic viz. sports content a little convoluted as well. Regardless, I thought this was a little disingenuous:”James Hamilton’s discussion of local news in All The News That’s Fit To Sell opens with a commonplace — if a local station is trying to appeal to women, they’ll feature soft news.That’s right, it’s all our fault.”Jane, you ignorant slut! She makes it sound like Hamilton’s blaming women for the crappy fluff stories stations put out to try to reel them in. It’s not TV-watchers’ fault if stations assume they’re morons.I admit, I haven’t read the book–I suppose it’s possible that it actually has some nefarious sexist agenda.

  4. Dunwich

    Let’s up the stakes at Ch.7 from a female anchor team, to an all- female broadcast staff. I’d watch. On a serious note the woman-in- trouble stories onToday are pretty awful, and the broadcast is doubly annoying with Matt Lauer, GOP talking points reciter.

  5. Neil

    Yea it’s not really fair to judge Hamilton only via somebody else’s interpretation. According to the rigid ethical standards we blog commenters adhere to ha ha.PP indeed mid-game yakkage is a damn contagion of touchy-feeliness, no longer restricted to the Olympics! Some Celtics bigwig sat down for a chat with Gorman and Heinsohn in the middle of a game a couple months ago. They’re even doing it during Bruins games–eg an extended bull session with Chiarelli a couple weeks ago, right during the action. Fred Cusick was rightly appalled at such requests. Now, retired but not being dead yet, he’s rolling over on his lawn. The corollary commonplace of adding soft news to get more women is bumping up the babe factor to get more guys. Rivera and Khazei–I’m there! They can talk about movie gossip all they want. Did somebody mention news? Ha, that’s so last century. I need sheets of Lucite flying around Frances Rivera’s glamorous hair.

  6. Samuel Johnson

    “Now, retired but not being dead yet, he’s rolling over on his lawn.”That’s fantastic.

  7. Suldog

    Let me give you something else to chew on in the discussion of whether or not TV news is pandering to women. When was the last time you saw two men as an anchor team? The usual these days is a man and a woman, but two-woman teams are not unseen. I can’t recall seeing a two-man team lately, by which I mean in the past 20 years.Anyone?

  8. Peter Porcupine

    Chet and David, Suldog – the last, best.

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