The ongoing debate over health care reform is a tough story for local television news to cover well. Angry protesters and emotional testimony at town hall meetings make for good video but add little to public understanding of the issues.
Recognizing that, stations across the country are reforming their coverage of health reform. WFOR-TV in Miami recently devoted an entire week to the story, with reports on every newscast and daily live Web chats.
News director Adrienne Roark says the goal was simple: “to try and cut through all the noise and confusion and give the viewers some actual information on this issue.” The station has devoted three reporters to continuing the coverage and developed a special Web section with archived stories and links.
At KRDO-TV in Colorado Springs, political reporter Marshall Zelinger is running “truth watch” reports on health reform TV ads and direct mail. WGAL-TV in Lancaster, Pa., also has done “truth checks” on statements by elected officials. “We were able to correct or at least add context to many of the issues raised,” says news director Dan O’Donnell.
WXIA-TV in Atlanta developed an online forum aimed at “cutting through the noise on health care reform.” The page summarizes the positions of Georgia’s members of Congress, with links to their Web sites, formal statements and YouTube videos. In Green Bay, Wisc., WLUK-TV has collected stories online in a “Health Care Checkup” section.
When WGAL’s O’Donnell assigned a reporter to the story, he deliberately did not choose either the station’s government reporter or its medical reporter. “We decided a reporter who comes at the story from a different direction was needed.”
What’s your station doing to provide more depth and context to health reform coverage? Add a comment to let us know.