Here is an idea borne out of my irritation with the presentation of news and analysis on TV, with all its limitations. The limitations are not that of the medium per se, but that of publishers' perception of the medium and of how they can generate increased revenues.
Facts and opinion are presented selectively due to
- Lack of time - time windows for presentation dictate everything. Breaks must be had at specific times and an entire program can only be 30 minutes long or 60 minutes long and only so much can be covered, with one side of the story often getting more or all of the time.
- Lack of research - anchors/presenters are most often not chosen for their knowledge or abilities, but for various other reasons, with a few exceptions of course. The research teams don't back the anchors/presenters well either
- Possible subconscious or deliberate biases/prejudices which come through not only in the views expressed by the presenter, but also in the choices made in inviting so-called experts.
Some TV channels are able to address the research and bias with diligent preparation and professionalism, but most TV channels don't seem to bother. When I see something patently untrue or foolish being passed off as expert analysis on subjects that I know something about, I really wonder about the veracity of all that is being said on subjects that I know little or nothing about.
Presentation styles themselves leave much to be desired and tilt towards the confrontational more often than not, with an attempt to entertain viewers by needling or irritating those being interviewed rather than trying to draw them out to inform and educate the viewers. Anchors/Presenters often adopt a smug , patronising, holier-than-thou attitude.
So here is the opportunity.
Create a blog that will critically review the popular TV news/analysis programs and write a commentary on all such programs over the past 24 hours. The commentary will
- highlight views that are passed off as news
- debunk patent untruths that are presented as facts or are left unchallenged
- bring out subtle prejudices and biases that come through
- question the premises on which opinion is proferred, if unjustified
- provide facts and information to bring perspective to the various issues discussed
- highlight inconsistencies in the views presented
This blog will essentially aim to provide viewers with a means of better understanding and appreciating what is presented on TV. The blog will also invite comments from the readers of the blog to help build a strong and participative community of readers.
So what's the business model?
First the costs. The costs are minimal - all one needs is a TV to access news/analysis programs, access to the Internet (both as a reference tool to research the various topics and also as the publishing medium) and a very very small investment to set up a and host a blog. Of course, it will require people to do the work and just one person or maybe two would be enough to get started.
Now the revenue potential. The blog itself will aim to attract a sizeable audience which can then be monetised online through a web site and an email newsletter as well. For a start, every advertiser who is advertising on the various news and analysis programs on TV can be invited to extend their advertising to the blog for an incremental cost.
The blog can be syndicated to daily newspapers (thereby enabling them to go one-up on the TV medium - wouldn't newspapers given an arm and leg for that?) to educate and inform the viewer and provide perspective and commentary on what they heard and saw a few hours ago, subtly highlighting the advantages of print and the limitations of TV in the process. A daily column like this appearing in the morning papers, dissecting and analysing last night's TV programs, has the potential to attract a huge following. Attracting advertisers and sponsors to such a newspaper column should also be very doable.
Shadowing media outlets and providing commentary and analysis of what is published in the media has been happening for a while in America. Chronwatch shadows the San Francisco Chronicle and Ratherbiased shadows Dan Rather, the CBS News Anchor. Ira Stoll was shadowing the New York Times which he felt "had grown complacent, slow and inaccurate and regularly noticed errors of fact and of logic". He started Smarter Times, which eventually led to him becoming the founding editor of the New York Sun, a daily newspaper in New York that was launched sometime in 2000.