Why I Flamed Out Of TV News
Joseph White
3646

From a friend after reading this article. “Broadcast news is an oxymoron. Radio is no different from television. There are no broadcast journalists. And there is no broadcast news. Everyone who works on-air in radio and TV is an entertainer. Radio and TV news are “shows” not news.”

“For example, I had a New Dept. of a dozen newspeople and three news vehicles at WAOK Radio. We could have reported on anything in Atlanta with our resources. BUT… the news was a revenue source, first and foremost. So, since our main news sponsors were car dealers and nightclubs (I don’t know why), car crashes, especially deadly crashes and shootings at clubs were FORBIDDEN to be part of the news. I’m sure you can see why.”

“Also, since we were a black station I insisted that all news stories be reported from a black perspective. If the government issued cost-of-living stats I wanted a black professor from one of Atlanta’s black colleges to express an opinion about what those stats meant to black people. One morning, as I drove into work, I heard my station’s news and the lead item was the crisis in California about the med-fly. When I arrived at the station I summoned both the News Director and the Program Director into my office and I yelled at them, something I never did. I said if I ever heard a story about the med-fly again and its damage to Los Angeles they would both be looking for new jobs. They knew what I meant — when the med-fly invaded black neighborhoods in Atlanta then they could report on it… not a minute before.”

“On WAOK Radio, as well as every radio station I ever was associated with (we owned 30 stations), Weather, Sports (this was the age prior to cable TV with ESPN, etc.), traffic and the public scandal of the day… that was the news, and the bulk of the time was for commercials! Crime was not news; it simply scared listeners and why would I want to do that?”

“At the same time, since we made so much money and I had leverage to spend that money as I saw fit, we did some real journalism… for example, in 1984 WAOK was the only broadcast station, radio or TV, that had a fulltime correspondent traveling with the Jesses Jackson Presidential campaign. Cost a lot, but it was fully sponsored and actually made money.”