Why Watch TV News?

I am increasingly perplexed that anyone ever watches TV news any more. Some math:

the average person reads 300-400 words per minute.

The average news presenter speaks 100-120 words per minute

The average 30-minute program on US TV has 8 minutes of ads. The weather takes a good 60 seconds and the fluff and credits take another 2 minutes.

At best you’ll get about 120 words x19 minutes or, generously, 2300 words. You could read the same amount of information in 7.5 minutes. Note I used the best number for TV (120/min) and worst number for reading (300/min).

You might argue that a picture is worth 1000 words and I might even agree with you. So 30 pictures per second of relevant video could be really powerful. In my experience, I find most video in TV news is superfluous to the story. It might show broken glass from a break-in, or stock footage of medicine bottles on an assembly line for a medical story. Rarely does the video add much to the story, so I largely discount it.

Lastly, TV news isn’t hyperlinked. I can’t fact check it. I can’t click for more information. At best I can make notes to go follow up later and read more from somewhere else. So they want me to spend almost 30 minutes to get about 7.5-10 minutes' worth of information. That’s much too inefficient. Given that they will cram that 30 minutes full of advertisements, product placements, and “news” stories that turn shopping events and product releases into “news”, that’s just not a trade-off I’m willing to make.

Got a reason to watch TV news? Let me hear it in the comments.

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