Help us hold local television stations accountable

(Image courtesy of Media Alliance)
Posted Sept. 29, 2004
Updated Oct. 4, 2004

Last spring Grade the News analyzed how well local news media helped prepare us to cast informed ballots in the March 2 election.

The results for the three largest stations located in the city of San Francisco, KRON Channel 4, KPIX Channel 5 and KGO Channel 7, indicated that none took their obligation to empower citizenship seriously. They spent a minute or less in two of the three weeks before Election Day reporting on candidate positions and the substance and likely effects of ballot measures, ignoring hundreds of important races and issues across the nine counties of the Bay Area.

This fall they have another chance to fulfill their social contract of public service in return for free use of our airwaves. This fall stations will have additional millions in revenue from political advertising to pay for the in-depth coverage -- particularly of local contests -- that we need.

Grade the News is joining with Media Alliance, Common Cause, local chapters of the League of Women Voters, the Alliance for Better Campaigns, college students at several Bay Area universities and more than a score of other civic-minded organizations to ask Bay Area news directors to allocate at least two hours per week during evening hours to cover the issues voters will decide on Nov. 2.

Experience tells us we'll need to monitor their performance. With your help we can shine a bright light on those stations that act responsibly and expose those that shun public service.

Please consider volunteering to evaluate whether local stations are meeting our needs as citizens. You can do as little as one newscast, or as many as you care to. The analysis will take place throughout October.

The campaign scorecard and instructions are easy to download and use (PDF format -- get Adobe Acrobat Reader here).

After you evaluate a newscast, send it in either by fax to Media Alliance, 415-546-6128, or preferably -- fill in your data online by going to the Survey Monkey Web site. The URL is: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=72570649481.

To volunteer and for more information, please email ElectionWatch@media-alliance.org. Or call (415) 546-6334 x300.