The Business of Local News (1974)

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In any day, The Business of Local News would be an excellent, compelling documentary. In our post-Gulf War present, however, it's almost a necessity. It is amazing and instructive that a video made decades ago would encapsulate the problems with televised news. Produced by University Community Video, the video examines the news broadcasts of Minneapolis's three television stations. Deftly combining number crunching with up-front interviews of the station's news directors, the video draws out the entertainment versus information contradiction that haunts TV news. Forced to play up to an audience to gain market share, the news directors must dumb down their broadcasts, making stories shorter and focusing on violence and disasters. The video also develops an insightful critique of the format of news segments, demonstrating how their form restricts the types of content and analysis viewers receive.