"If we are to have the better informed public opinion that is essential for democracy, there must be a better flow of information to the nation," Lester Markel maintained. "We live in a society that needs information to make informed decisions," it was pointed out. "Newspapers began not as organs of information but as propagators of points of view," it was explained. "News was freely slanted – as some might say it still is – to suit the preconceptions of readers, political parties or owners. The business was also bitterly competitive on both philosophical and financial planes." Television had been described as "the mass media business, looking for masses...There is an increasing awareness and desire of people to get information and have economic, business, finance issues explained." Visuals "help not just for covering the story but for making it comprehensible."
"The newspaper's primary role is to report and inform day by day and thus to help guide the community to better government, higher standards of living, a greater security of person and property," it was argued. "A newspaper serves as a forum for public debate of issues." In 1995, The Freedom Forum Media Studies Center revealed its finding, "Clearly the idea that TV news is a headline service that must be augmented by newspaper stories is false. Some network stories of major news events actually contain more spoken words than print stories carry in written words, which is astonishing. Most notably, the study demonstrates that, to be informed, one must pay attention to both television and newspaper news."
David Broder suggested, "Newspapers should play to their strength. They should not provide entertainment but information. The real question of the future is whether today's (1990) young people regard newspapers as important to them." One network chief remarked, "Younger people have never been watching the news. It's always been a generational thing." He pointed out in 2005, "Our issue isn't to get 20 year-olds to watch Brian (Williams) but to get 40 year-olds to watch Brian and to get 35 year-olds to think about it."
Newsmagazine shows became popular in the 1990s. Rick Kaplan theorized, "These stories are people-oriented, topical news that is easily recognizable to all age groups." One observer remarked, "I think these news shows fit the pattern of the way people now watch television. People are busier. They work harder and longer. They can't sit in front of the set every week. We have an advantage because on a news show you can get the full measure every week, even if you haven't watched in a month. You missed nothing with any character as you would in a drama show."
"There are people who want to watch news," Diane Sawyer made the observation in 1995. "I think non-fiction reality is always more compelling than fiction." One network programmer observed, "There don't seem to be enough compelling stories to carry all these newsmagazines." '48 Hours' debut in 1988. It was TV's first single-topic newsmagazine. In 1998, '48 Hours' became the only newsmagazine to achieve an increase in year-to-year viewership. The success of '48 Hours' gave rise to the "single-topic" newsmagazine show, 'Turning Point'. Its first night (back in March 1994) turned out to be the most watched of any newsmagazine premiere in television history attracting a 30 share audience (30 out of 100 viewers watching TV on Wednesday night at 10.00p.m. (EST) when 'Turning Point' was on were watching 'Turning Point'). Subject: Charles Manson - a ratings record for a newsmagazine first screen outing in TV history.
In June 1994, 'Turning Point' did even better attracting a 32 share audience, the program's highest ratings ever. Some 25.4 million viewers in 94.2 million TV homes were counted watching the story on O.J. Simpson. It was the No. 1 show of the week. "For many of us," Peter Jennings reasoned, "being a reporter turned out to be a calling...We sometimes forget that television has the ability to take people somewhere." Barbara Walters made known in 1974, "It's not my place to give political opinions. I will try to illuminate further or probe further but I didn't say to a guest, 'I disagree with you,' certainly not on political interviews. I will if we're discussing whether or not you should tell children about Santa Claus, but not in a political interview."