Jeff Smith’s latest column for Recoil, “Talking Back to the News,” has been posted in the commentary section of the site. In it, Jeff reflects on the conversations he has had with the local media as part of his work as monitoring the local media for the Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy (GRIID):
In 2004, I participated in a panel discussion organized by Michigan Radio on election coverage, along with a GVSU professor and a local TV reporter. When I pointed out that the local TV stations have failed the public miserably on election coverage the reporter basically agreed and then made some comment about how they need to improve. That was over a year ago and we haven’t seen it. Once the Grand Rapids Press published a short piece on one of our election studies in that ridiculous Sunday column called Political Potpourri. They got a response from each of the managers at the stations we monitor, but my favorite was from WOOD TV 8 manager Diane Kniowski who said “Smith didn’t account for the combined effect of TV and newspaper coverage. You guys (The Press) provide the details and analysis, while we show the images and give the highlights. It’s good to have people like Jeff Smith who hold you accountable, but I’d wish he’d come up with a way to stimulate his age demographic 18 to 49 to get to the polls.” OK, so they really don’t do news, the just “show the images.” And when is it my responsibility to get 18 to 49 year olds to vote? They are the ones with a TV station that broadcasts to thousands of households in the area. They have the power to inform people way more than I do. Nonetheless, the response was quite instructive.