Sunday, September 4, 2011

Television is Still Important

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

I don't know about you, but I know more than a dozen people who never watch television. Whether it's because they don't own televisions, don't want to pay for cable, or simply find the current shows boring or difficult to keep up with, they just don't share the interest that you and I do. And while I find that shocking at times, I do understand the viewpoint every now and then.

In the past year or so, I have heard multiple arguments regarding television going out of style, and that social media and the internet as a whole were completely taking over, not only filling the voids of entertainment but also serving as a major news source. But, as David Zurawik wrote in the Baltimore Sun, television still matters.

First, a summary of an incident that took place last week... The Obama administration has had several issues with the television media lately. First, they wanted to secure 8pm on Wednesday night for the President to make a speech. Except, the GOP 2012 presidential candidates were already scheduled to debate that night... and they kinda threw a hissy fit. So, Obama moved to Thursday... against the opening night of the NFL season. Obviously he didn't last long in that slot, ultimately moving to 7pm, getting thirty minutes of unchallenged time before NBC begins its football coverage. (And let's not forget that we're talking Eastern time. So Obama is going to come on at 4pm for those of us West Coast dwellers.)

In his September 1st article, Zurawik points out that both the GOP and the President were fighting over a television broadcast slot, not a webcast or a social media conversation or a trending topic on Twitter. While Obama hasn't really turned out to be the great media orator that some had hoped, he has given an impressive number of televised addresses during his term.

Presidents have been addressing the nation via television since 1947, when Truman gave the annual State of the Union speech. That wasn't in primetime though... the first evening State of the Union on television was given by Johnson in 1965. And, while Clinton's 1997 delivery was simultaneously broadcast live on television and on the web, we're still using televised speeches. Yes, television killed radio, but it does not (at this point, anyway) look like the internet will kill television.

While I will admit that I turn first to Twitter when any major event goes down, I flip the television on for more official details. And, as I type out 140 characters probably identical to someone else's thoughts on a breaking story, I'm still watching that live, televised update. So, perhaps the internet has only enhanced television - people do talk about what's going on immediately, and more ways to virtually enjoy a show with your friends are popping up all the time. Hopefully this whole issue will reiterate the vital hold television has on our population. The bottom line? Television is still important.
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