The broadcast news source that I watched was the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric, which was a half hour evening broadcast. Couric sat behind a desk, facing the viewer the entire time. The top stories on this broadcast were the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the Kansas City tornadoes, and the “Make or Break” mission in Afghanistan. Each story received about five minutes of airtime. Couric narrated statistics of how much oil has leaked and the length of coastline that has been affected in Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico while live footage showed clean-up efforts taking place along the coast.
The story was made relatable for the viewer by explaining that the amount of oil spilled is enough to cover all of New York City. It was lent credibility by an on-site reporter and correspondent that interviewed both local residents involved in the clean-up and with experts working to stop the oil leak. There was no attention paid to the source of the leak or to anyone being held responsible for the accident. The story about the tornadoes in Kansas City featured footage from a resident’s video camera of the funnel cloud approaching, along with local news footage of the damage to local homes and businesses.
Couric, the on-site correspondent and a representative from the National Weather Service delivered their news in professional, almost formal tones. This gave the program the feel of being informed, but somewhat impersonal. The only statistics given were the death rate numbers, and the story ended by stating that more tornadoes were headed toward the area. Couric’s coverage of the “Make or Break” mission taking place in Afghanistan was the third top story.
It discussed the efforts to reclaim the city of Khandahar from the Taliban and gave background information into previous operations in the war between the United States and the Taliban. In-depth explanations were given of where the US troops will go and what they will do. A correspondent reporting from the Pentagon made the story seem more credible, even as he explained President Obama’s reasoning behind the troop surge. The cable news source that I viewed was Fox News on the Fox News Network.
It was hosted by Shepard Smith. This was also a half hour evening news broadcast. The top three stories on the show were the Kansas City tornadoes, the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and the theft of a memorial cross for World War I veterans from a Mojave Desert monument. Air time for each top story was about five minutes, similar to Couric’s program. Shepard Smith delivered all of his dialogue standing and was positioned at various spots throughout the broadcast, as opposed to Couric who stayed seated.
There were fast graphics, upbeat background music, and a news wire line across the bottom of the screen delivering more headlines during the top stories, all features not included in the CBS broadcast. The story about the Kansas City tornadoes lasted about five minutes. In included local news footage shot by a Kansas City news program, an in-studio commentator and weather expert that discussed the tornado system with Smith, and footage of local survivors describing what they had seen and heard and detailing the damage to their personal property.
Statistics about deaths and injuries were given, and the segment ended with Smith saying that another storm system was on its way. When discussing the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Smith delved deeper into the Capital Hill investigation of BP, Transocean, and Halliburton in the attempt to determine which company was responsible for the accident. There was also more attention given to the tanker explosion that caused the accident and there was mention of the crew that died in the explosion, information that was not included in the CBS news program. This made the Fox coverage of the oil spill seem more informed and more personable.
It was made more personable by Smith’s opinion that someone should be held accountable. The story about the World War I monument being stolen seemed more of a human interest story, and it was interesting that this was made a top story on the program. In discussing the theft of the monument that had stood in the Mojave Desert since 1934, Smith talked with a veteran that was coordinating an effort to have the monument recovered along with a legal correspondent that explained the ongoing debate over whether the monument should be allowed to be erected in the spot in the first place.
Overall, the basic layout of the programs was the same. Each top story was given about five minutes of air time and each featured on-site correspondents, experts, video footage, and interviews. The Fox News broadcast was made more engaging with more music, a host that moved around and stood while he spoke, offered jokes and offhanded opinions about the news stories, and in-studio correspondents to discuss them. The CBS broadcast was more serious and toned-down, with Couric being the only correspondent in the studio, tamer graphics, and no news wire.
I feel that both proved ample credibility with their straightforward delivery of the facts. But I feel that the Fox News broadcast was more personable and relatable because instead of just showing footage of what’s happening right now like the CBS program did, Fox’s program gave more background information and opinions from more individuals to help the viewer understand the issues and the stories better. Similarities were evident for the basic purpose of news delivery, but the differences occurred because of a different attitude towards the viewer.