Proportionality in journalism

In The Elements of Journalism, Kovach and Rosensteil plea for proportionality in news coverage. It’s a call for coverage in proportion to the significance of events in peoples’ lives.

This has been a rough month for proportional news coverage. I couldn’t even submit an entry yesterday.

It’s a May rating-sweeps period for TV, so we know what we’re going to get and we’re getting it. But even in print, I question the proportionality of current coverage.

Locally, we continue to get breathless, joyful news coverage every night about the separation of conjoined twins. One giddy anchorwoman even said – just hours after the girls had been separated – that they would play sports someday. Proportionality.

Meantime, there’s also lots of coverage of three different proposals to fund and build new stadiums in Minneapolis-St. Paul. But there’s almost no coverage of any health care proposals before the legislature. Proportionality.

Meantime, coverage of a political party’s decision for which candidate would be endorsed to run to fill a key vacant Congressional seat got only brief mention. And there were no good in-depth profiles of the candidates nor the issues. Proportionality.

For Mother's Day weekend, there were endless weapy stories about breast cancer. But few hard issue-oriented stories about breast cancer. About the dilemmas in diagnosis and treatment, in funding, in consumer decision-making. Proportionality.

CNN had a Mother's Day segment on advice for women at different ages about tests they should have. Almost all of their recommendations flew in the face of evidence-based guidelines. (I'll be writing about this in a future entry.) Months ago, CNN was an equal opportunity disease-mongerer, ignoring the evidence when making testing recommendations for men. See my Publisher's Note on

I have better things to do today than to be depressed about current news trends. Proportionality.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Gary Schwitzer published on May 16, 2006 8:14 AM.

You can tell it’s TV sweeps-ratings time was the previous entry in this blog.

Hospital webcasts make me ill is the next entry in this blog.

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