Hot damn. KGW launches a half-hour local show dedicated to the 2008 election.

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

Two years ago, the Center for Media and Public Affairs released a study of the election coverage from Portland's local television stations. What they found wasn't a surprise -- barely any coverage at all.

As Jeff Alworth noted then:

Their contention is that the local Portland affiliates did a woeful job of covering elections--just 5% of their totally broadcasts, according to a report prepared by the Center for Media and Public Affairs. And this was during the 2004 election, when Oregon was a swing state in a Presidential election. When you begin to break down the numbers, they look a whole lot worse. Fully four-fifths of the overall political coverage was devoted to the Presidential election; conversely, the four stations ran a total of just eight stories on local legislative races--of the 1450 total political stories they ran. Stations also aired information about ballot measures less than 1% of the time, despite the critical importance of Measures 36 and 37.

Oregon's Money in Politics Research Action Project (now known as Democracy Reform Oregon) filed a federal complaint - asking the FCC to decline to renew the broadcast licenses for Portland's local stations for failing to meet their statutory obligation for public-interest programming.

The president of the statewide industry group, Bill Johnstone, even went further - arguing that dedicating 1% of airtime to political news was enough, and that interested viewers should read blogs. (Nevermind that stations in other markets have actually maintained high ratings while doing 10% coverage or more.)

Well, all that changed this week. At least for KGW.

This week, KGW started airing a nightly half-hour program dedicated entirely to election coverage called Decision 2008. It airs at 7 p.m. every weeknight.

I stumbled into it entirely by accident tonight - and at first blush, it's halfway decent.

The first 10 minutes or so were split between to the latest developments in the presidential race and the U.S. Senate race. The second ten-minute segment featured Tracy Barry moderating an argument between Lars Larson and David Sarasohn about media bias - along with a review of what local political blogs are up to. BlueOregon got a shout-out for my piece today about fighting back with progressive ballot measures. (Personal to Joe Donlon - my first name rhymes with Ferrari or Atari, not Harry or Larry. "Carrie" is my wife, not me.) A brief segment about the latest political YouTube sensation, and then - of course - a four-minute diversion to talk about the weather forecast. And then Pat Dooris closed by reading some comments from their website.

The production was a little clunky (that'll improve as they get used to the format) but I'm hopeful about this new show. With 46 half-hour shows before election day, that's 23 hours of dedicated election coverage. They're bound to move down the ballot to talk about legislative candidates, local races, ballot measures, and more. Hopefully, they'll also find time amidst all the horse race coverage to talk about issues that really matter to Oregonians.

For now, let's give KGW a big thumbs-up. And let's give 'em a little help: What would you like to see on this new show? Given the daily format, what should they cover? Who should they interview on the air?

I've got all kinds of ideas - but I'd like to hear from you first. Discuss!

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    I think you did what I do when my mind is running too fast - start the sentence one way, end it another...

    ..."asking the FCC to decline to renew the broadcast licenses for Portland's local stations be pulled, for failing to meet their statutory obligation for public-interest programming."

    You must've meant that they needed to decline to renew, pull their licenses, or both. I don't think you meant to say "decline to renew the broadcast licenses for Portland's local stations be pulled..." It's that whole double negative thing (sorry... just picked up a new copy of the style guide today... can't help it).

    [Editor's note: Sentence fixed. Thanks.]

    Personally, I'd like to see some coverage on the U.S. Senate race, obviously. But then I'd like to see more focus on leg/local races and measures. PCC has an important ballot measure. Gresham, Fairview, and Troutdale all have safety related levies. Portland has a council run-off. Out here in Gresham, I'm challenging an incumbent to the city council. I know people like to blow off Gresham as just a suburb city, but we are the state's fourth largest city and have more than 100,000 residents.

    We had several shootings out here recently, and as such we took to the streets late Monday morning to rally for the public safety levy. I saw KATU, KGW, and KPTV and I know print media was here. I never saw KGW. We made it on the noon news, but by the early evening news, we were bumped for a ton of coverage on the warehouse fire. The fire was important, but so was a town fighting back against crime.

    I sincerely hope they look at more stuff at the legislative and local levels. There's a lot of good stories and angles there, and it's the stuff people really want to hear about. They want to know about what's going to be done to fix their streets, give more access to parks, bring more jobs to town, etc.

    It would be interesting to see them allow a fair amount of public input. It could be all filtered through someone to ensure that one campaign isn't trying to use the show unfairly. But they could, say, pick a community, send a reporter out, and get some people around town to answer a question about their biggest concern, question, etc. And then those could be used to question the electeds that cover that area.

    The media needs to go back to realizing that people watch the local news to get local news. There is a national news show on, and besides s quick recap of some major stories, they want to hear local stuff. As such, any talk about national politics needs to be framed with a local twist. Otherwise it's the same stuff you're going to hear on the national news, and it's not going to give people any more info than they already are hearing.

  • nsr (unverified)

    Good to hear Tracy's on it. She did a great job moderating the Senate Democrat debate in her own inimitable way. When she burst out with "No grouchy faces here!", Jeff Mapes was so stunned he forgot his question. Seriously, she gets that it's supposed to be entertaining. Not ashamed to admit I'm a fan-- if I can't watch Tracy and Her Friends at 5 o'clock, I skip the news.

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    On a side note...

    All of us with Comcast should call them and KGW and encourage them to put the show on OnDemand. Their news shows are on OnDemand (available for 24 hours until the next newscast at that time). It only make sense that this should be included as well. I just went and looked, and it's not there.

    For those who don't know... go to OnDemand, Local Programs, KGW, News. There you'll find the news broadcasts for the past 24 hours.

  • Darrell Fuller (unverified)

    I'm with you, Kari, congrats to KGW. I hope it does well enough that the other stations feel the need to compete (if not this cycle then two years from now).

    I'd love to see a section called "context" where they take an advertisement (tv, radio, print, US Senate, State Senate, doesn't matter) then put the zingers into context. For example: "Gordon Smith votes with President Bush XX% of the time." Okay, using the same analysis, what is Wyden's percentage? If Wyden votes with Bush only 20 percent of the time then the attack makes sense. On the other hand, if Wyden votes with Bush 85 percent of the time versus Smith's 90 percent of the time, well that tells a different story. Context, context, context.

  • matt (unverified)

    I think they should do some on the road segments, follow around candidates and local pols to see what they are doing on the ground.

    It could be interesting and would fill 7 mins of show time.

    Stop one = Brent Barton, the young Democrat trying to take down an entrenched Republican incumbent. Sub text, it was a Republican leaning district till the Obama and Clinton show came to Oregon. Now it is Democratic leaning. So in a way it is an microcosm of the Presidential, the Change Democrat with go grassroots program vs the experienced Republican with system behind her.

    Just a suggestion.

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    Kari, nice report. I meant to get a post up on this, but I haven't had a chance to see the show (just caught the teaser over the weekend). Kudos to KGW for this. We should all make an effort to watch and reward them for making the move. Who knows, maybe it will actually be lucrative...

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    I like the suggestion about following candidates around while they campaign.

    I don't want to hear Lars Larson talk about Sarah Palin. That would be too much for me to handle!

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    I hope they impress on people the need to vote on more than just the Presidential race.

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    Kari, they should put me on it, of course! I can make the NY Times but not local Oregon media?

    I've been trying to break into KGW forever! Len, Tim, and Bill have a lock on the local talking head franchise.

    Seriously, it is nice to see some coverage of the national races. Not only is the news coverage of politics relatively sparse (not just TV, but also print), but there is a heavy Oregon-centrism. Just try to land an op-ed on national politics, and you'll be told "We pay for the national columnists. Do you have something on Oregon?"

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    Kari, you didn't actually marry a Carrie? Good lord.

  • jaybeat (unverified)

    I don't want to hear Lars Larson talk about Sarah Palin.

    Good grief! I don't want to hear Lars Larson talk about what he ate for breakfast! (Or killed, field dressed and THEN ate, I'm sure he'd like you to think.)

    And Lars vs. David Sarasohn? Jeez, talk about stupid sound bites vs. substance...

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    Kari, you didn't actually marry a Carrie? Good lord.

    In fact, I did.

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    I just sent an e-mail to several news addresses at KGW suggesting that they might want to take a look at this thread to see the suggestions people are making, since a number of them seem like good ones.

    However, people could also send their suggestions direct.

    The KGW contact page has a pull-down menu that gives a number of e-mail address options which will invoke a blank e-mail in your mail program. None of them specifically refer to the segment, so I'd suggest asking that your message be forwarded to the right person in case you pick wrong. "TV News Questions" seems perhaps most apt.

  • Aaron Weiss (unverified)

    Yes, Chris, we're watching this thread -- Jenni's VOD suggestion is already being worked on.

    I'm always open to feedback; the show will undoubtedly evolve as we get closer to election day and discover what works best in the new format. We're aiming to strike a balance between local and national politics, so if you're hoping for an Obama/McCain-free show, you'll be disappointed.

    I'm thrilled we have an outlet to dig into the ballot measures and downticket races that all too often get short shrift on TV.

    I'm happy to take suggestions directly: my email is aweiss ( at ) kgw ( dot ) com.

    -Aaron Weiss Producer, NewsChannel 8 @ 7pm

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    Glad to hear about the VOD. I regularly miss the news broadcasts when they're on, but I love that I have the ability to go in and watch them OnDemand.

  • Rosie Stephens (unverified)

    I endorse Jenni's suggestion for KGW: "besides s quick recap of some major stories, they want to hear local stuff. As such, any talk about national politics needs to be framed with a local twist. Otherwise it's the same stuff you're going to hear on the national news,...." heard great discussion on OPB yesterday between Steve Novick and Kevin Mannix on an important ballot measure. We need more of this! The League of Women Voters of Oregon has great indepth measure info. but not enough people get to see it. I heard more than 39% of voters didn't vote down their ballot beyond Obama or McCain. My own canvassing for a candidate tells me people are so busy they don't know a state race from a federal race.


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