Media consultants are encouraging radio and TV stations to concentrate on patriotism and support of the troops. Dissent doesn't sell:
- Now, apparently, is the time for all good radio and TV stations to come to the aid of their country's war.
That is the message pushed by broadcast news consultants, who've been advising news and talk stations across the nation to wave the flag and downplay protest against the war.
"Get the following production pieces in the studio NOW: . . . Patriotic music that makes you cry, salute, get cold chills! Go for the emotion," advised McVay Media, a Cleveland-based consultant, in a "War Manual" memo to its station clients. ". . . Air the National Anthem at a specified time each day as long as the USA is at war."
The company, which describes itself as the largest radio consultant in the world, also has been counseling talk show stations to "Make sure your hosts aren't 'over the top.' Polarizing discussions are shaky ground. This is not the time to take cheap shots to get reaction . . . not when our young men and women are 'in harm's way.' "
The influential television-news consulting firm Frank N. Magid Associates recently put it in even starker terms: Covering war protests may be harmful to a station's bottom line.
In a survey released last week on the eve of war, the firm found that war protests were the topic that tested lowest among 6,400 viewers across the nation. Magid said only 14 percent of respondents said TV news wasn't paying enough attention to "anti-war demonstrations and peace activities"; just 13 percent thought that in the event of war, the news should pay more attention to dissent. [Washington Post]
I happen to be pro-war, but I don't want media content decisions regarding the NEWS to be based upon opinion polls. I also don't want music programming decisions based upon political considerations - I want radio to play the best songs. Commercial radio has been reduced to tight, highly-consulted playlists already, we don't need the music further narrowed by political considerations. If an anti-war or pro-peace song is a good song and it fits your format, then play it.
And news is news: I trust journalists to make up on their own minds on what constitutes "news" - both dissent and assent are news, cover them both.