Wednesday, June 20, 2007

SCETV should be ashamed

Being a state employee, I generally avoid commenting on anything having to do with state governemnt, etc. But there is one agency that continues to show how deficient it is as a media outlet, that after this week's deaths of nine firefighters in Charleston has shown what an embarrassement it is.

The agency is South Carolina's educational TV network, specifically its radio operation.

In many states like this one already starving for solid radio news, the NPR affiliates have risen to the challenge. Not this one, despite its network of stations around the state.

Nine dead firefighters in Charleston. And where is NPR getting its information? Not from an SCETV correspondent as near as I can tell -- in fact I listened to various NPR newscasts yesterday, and the voicers were coming from stations in places such as Wilmington, N.C. Or when there is a big story, NPR's Adam Hochberg, who is based in North Carolina, has to work the phones or head down here.

In fact, what we get on our NPR stations in the morning that passes for local news is warmed-over AP, stuff that's often a day or more old. And even worse than the few commercial stations that do news -- if that is possible -- the program director records one or two newscasts and then they just play in an endless loop. Listen during the hour and you'll hear the same thing two or three times. Several times, clearly outdated information has been on all morning. What? It's too much trouble to rip, read and record something fresh every 60 or 90 minutes? Maybe even take five minutes to rewrite it?

SCETV used to have a pretty powerful news staff. It was gutted in a dispute with the Legislature. Now, it seems that SCETV officials are scared of their shadows if anyone mentions radio "news."

What an embarrassment.

(Please, someone from SCETV correct me if I'm wrong, because on this side of the speaker it's really bad. And, yes, I'll answer the question -- no I do not contribute because I have seen no initiative by SCETV to stand up to the state pols and try to put in even a rudimentary news operation. Show me some initiative, and I'll show you the money.)

On SCETV's TV side, there has been at least a little attempt to get back in the news/public affairs business with "The Big Picture," which tonight is devoting its time to the tragedy. NPR, on the other hand, has blanketed the story -- no thanks as near as I can tell to much help from SCETV radio -- in fact, it's so embarrassing that SCETV's "coverage" of this story on the Web pretty much consists of pointing to NPR's content.

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At 6/20/07, 2:22 PM, Blogger Gary Karr said...

I lament the death or radio, but not sure I think NPR should be picking up the slack. More here:

At 6/20/07, 5:59 PM, Blogger Doug Fisher said...

We can debate the larger issues all day. My point is that SCETV has the basic resources if it wants to use them.

Doing one rip and read in the morning, for instance, and then recycling it for four hours is unconscionable.

And when nine firefighters die in your state, surely you can do something.

Gary says the fact the news operation was gutted in a dispute with the Legislature proves something --- yes, it proves the SCETV folks were so scared of their shadows they were willing to make news the sacrificial lamb.

None of the "should we have public funded radio or not" debate changes the reality that we do, and as long as we do, this operation is a disgrace.

Whether we should have it at all is a different debate.

At 6/20/07, 6:07 PM, Blogger Doug Fisher said...

Gary, BTW, may have -- no, the editor in me reminds -- he HAS one of the worst puns of recent memory. Writing about a columnist and her scribblings on South Carolina's pork-loaded legislative system, Gary notes: In part, Cindi is asking politicians to do something against type. It doesn't make her incorrect, however. The system is archaic -- and as you know, we can't have archaic and eat it too.

You may now go screaming from the room.

At 6/20/07, 10:25 PM, Blogger Gary Karr said...

I'll grant that it's a different debate, and I'll grant that if they have the resources to cover news, they should to do so. I just don't think they should get those resources.

And I can't resist the archaic pun.


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