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TV's Nightline "Broke New Ground," Prof. Jeff McCall '76 Tells Arizona Republic

January 17, 2011

2958January 17, 2011, Greencastle, Ind. — "On Nov. 8, 1979, four days after Americans were taken hostage in Iran, ABC News President Roone Arledge, with nothing much to lose, decided to air a nightly update of the crisis," notes a story in the Arizona Republic. "The Iran Crisis - America Held Hostage, hosted by Frank Reynolds, aired right after the local late-night news. It would soon become Nightline, hosted by Ted Koppel."

"At the time, ABC was still a lesser player in the broadcast network-news races," Jeffrey M. McCall, professor of communication at DePauw University, tells the newspaper.  "Nightline did something that broadcast news has had trouble doing over the years -- devote substantial time to complex issues and give them the insight and depth needed for better understanding," Dr. McCall adds. "Broadcast979 news has long been criticized for its spot-news mentality, but Nightline broke new ground in providing daily, in-depth coverage on important issues." 

The story by Bill Goodykoontz examines "revolutions in news coverage" and how technology has affected broadcast storytelling. He writes, "The promise of constant information has led to resource-starved newsrooms scrambling to provide it. The desire to broadcast live, no matter what the story blurs the line between what's really important and what's just a ratings ploy."

3961"Producers feel compelled to go live as much as possible," Professor McCall tells the Republic, "but live broadcasts don't allow for the careful consideration of how stories should be covered. Context is often lost when news is covered like an action movie."

You'll find the full article at the paper's website.

Jeff McCall is a 1976 graduate of DePauw and author of Viewer Discretion Advised: Taking Control of Mass Media Influences. Earlier this month he examined comments made by Katie Couric, and was also quoted in a story in the UK's Guardian on the imminent end of Oprah Winfrey's daily television program. Frequently called upon by major media outlets to discuss media matters, McCall has been cited in articles published by more than 100 newspapers.

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