Telling Viewers What They Already Know is Lazy Journalism

By Doug Drew 

I was watching a local newscast this week, a morning news program that had featured a chef preparing gourmet picnic items. One of the items the chef was featuring was a fancy potato salad. After whipping up the delicious looking dish, the anchor turned to the chef and said “Now, with potato salad, do you have to worry about health safety? Letting the mayo and eggs get too warm sitting out in the sun?”

BAM! There it was! The stupid question. Stating the obvious. How many times do you think viewers have heard that lame tip to “keep potato salad chilled if taking it on a picnic?” Viewers have heard this over and over again. In this case, it didn’t make the anchor look very bright, and it perpetuated that general perception from viewers that most of what you learn from newscasts is the same old stuff.

Viewers seek new information they haven’t heard before


Too many newscasts are filled with the obvious. It’s one of the biggest reasons why viewers are rejecting local news. Viewers tune in to learn something they dont know and instead, what they often get is information they already know.

I saw another example this past weekend on one of the network morning newscasts. They were doing a segment on personal safety, showing items you can buy on the cheap that help keep you safe. One of the items was a battery operated doorstop, that you stick under a hotel room door, and alarms if the door is opened. I saw that and said to myself, “That thing has been around for years!” And the next “brilliant” item they featured was a can of shaving cream. But guess what? It wasn’t a shaving cream can after all! Instead of having shaving cream inside, you could twist off the top and use the inside to hide money, keys or valuables.

Lame tips

One of the biggest traps for this problem are in stories with “tips.” Most tips are really lame. Avoid the lame tips!

Tips on saving energy:

Turn off the lights when leaving a room

Install energy saving light bulbs

Use fans instead of air conditioning

Install weather stripping

Save money on gas:

Accelerate gradually

Plan errands so you make less trips in the car

Make sure tires are properly inflated

How to avoid swine flu:

Wash hands often

Don’t touch your mouth or nose with your fingers

Steer clear of others who are sick

Don’t drink out of the same glass as others who are sick

Lazy journalism

Remember the viewer is seeking new information, something they dont know or havent heard before. Telling them what they already know is simply lazy journalism.

Doug Drew is a morning news specialist with 602 Communications. You can reach him at