In response to TVNewsCheck’s Jessell At Large piece of Nov. 18 regarding stations needing more news not opinion, your original premise of 16 years ago still holds today. In fact, now, more than ever, stations should editorialize and put an added focus and spotlight on the issues that touch their local communities.
The emergence of “advocacy cable news channels” over the last 20 years has undermined the credibility of many news outlets. This is a self-inflicted wound by these organizations that continue to blur opinion with fact.
However, this is not the case in local news. The Pew Research Center and Knight Foundation find local news is the most widely trusted source, and this is not a result of stations failing to take a position.
The American public’s trust in local television news is a direct result of stations appropriately reflecting their local community, contextualizing the issues of the day for their viewers, fulfilling their obligation as licensees to serve the public interest, convenience and necessity.
There clearly is no correlation between being a market’s news leader and doing editorials. I am proud to say the majority of Hearst Television stations have been providing regular editorials to their local communities since 1948 and most of our stations continue to do so today.
While our stations purposely do not endorse political candidates, an important distinction especially in today’s political climate, this should not preclude any station from providing this important public service.
Editorials highlight community leaders and heroes; hold elected officials accountable; seek to underscore important investigations and truths; and call for legislative changes that better the lives of the viewers they serve.
What great local television stations provide through editorials is never in over supply … leadership.
Jordan Wertlieb is president of Hearst Television.