Recently, a letter was published in Voice of the People from a woman in Strum expressing her frustration over the lack of local TV network coverage of the Republican National Convention compared to the Democratic National Convention. As the news director for one of these local TV stations, I take issue with her claims.
Before these events started, we had a game plan to ensure coverage was fair; which we followed. For both events, our on-air coverage started at 9 p.m. and we carried it until the event concluded for the night, in many cases, pushing our 10 p.m. show to a later start time. Because of her claim of the “obvious unfairness,” I did the math. Four nights of coverage of the DNC amounted to 216 minutes. Four nights of coverage of the RNC amounted to 314 minutes. This doesn’t even include the recaps and reaction we had that followed every night of both conventions in our newscasts. I also went back and looked at the other local TV station’s coverage and noted they followed a similar format that was equal for both conventions.
While this woman was only writing about viewing on antenna TV, I also want to note that our coverage online followed the same format. We carried the evening session of the DNC live on our website from start to finish (8 p.m. to 10-ish) and the same for the RNC, which actually started half an hour earlier.
These claims of bias and lack of fair coverage are nothing new for us. In fact, her thoughts were echoed by at least one other person who called our newsroom and berated one of our local journalists over this perceived injustice. Despite the calm and collective way he explained how our coverage was equal, the caller kept rudely interrupting until eventually hanging up.
Many imagine the press to be made up of left-leaning, agenda-pushing journalists. In fact, our newsroom is made up of a diverse staff with different political beliefs, religions, ethnicities and backgrounds. Most importantly though, we’re people who live and work in the same community as you; we drive the same streets, our children attend the same schools, we shop at the same stores and root for the same sports teams.
If you feel our coverage is lacking in a certain area, please let us know, we welcome all feedback. However, please treat us as you would a neighbor, because we are one.
Shill is news director for WQOW-TV in Eau Claire.