By Dan Miller
January 26, 2009
People often say to me, "There's so much crime on TV newscasts, who decides what stories are covered?"
Well, it's a collaborative process that goes on all day long.
Producers, reporters, newsroom executives, anchors, website personnel and others meet several times a day in "rundown meetings" to discuss all the ideas for each newscast and the sequence for presenting the stories.
Usually, much of the discussion is about the lead stories... the ones that will appear first in each newscast.
On every newscast, we give the top story the same consideration as a newspaper gives to its front page, since the first story you hear on a television newscast is -- in essence -- our front page.
Suggestions and ideas for stories come from all over.... from press releases, tips from viewers, scheduled government events and, of course, from other news sources, including NBC and Associated Press.
It seems to me that, usually, the best stories -- the most unusual ones -- the ones that involve true investigation.... are brought to the table by our team of reporters and photojournalists.... and the decision for inclusion is made by the producers and the news director.
Day in and day out, I'm astounded at the resourcefulness of our top reporters in finding good stories.
But there's another group of people who make decisions that almost always impact what will be included on evenings newscasts... on our channel and the others.
We might dislike admitting it... but the misguided decisions made by these people must be taken into consideration as we select the news you hear about.
They're the local criminals and thugs.
Whenever someone decides to hold up a convenience store....
Whenever someone makes the decision to deal drugs....
When someone decides to lead police on a high speed chase...
When a man decides to beat his wife....
Or shoot his neighbor....
Or molest children....
Or swindle investors....
Their terrible decisions lead directly to our decision to include their stories on the news.
The bad news is.... no matter how many criminals are taken into custody, there always seem to be others, waiting in the wings, to commit other crimes on other days.
The good news is.... in our community and society as a whole, those crimes are out of the ordinary.... still unusual enough that it's an easy decision to consider them "news."