Death to the Crawl!

The New York Observer’s Kat Stoeffel writes about a subject near and dear to my heart

Some hypothesize that the news crawl had been a strategy to replicate the experience of reading the news online—which was quickly becoming the primary medium for news consumption among the advertiser-beloved 25-54-year-old demographic.

If this is true, the ticker experiment has been a failure. This year, the Internet surpassed television as the number one news source for people under 30. For the demographic loyal to cable news, the crawl is a distraction: outside of a state of emergency, the ticker displays news unrelated to that which is being broadcast by the journalists, competing for the viewer’s attention. In 2003, Newsday reported on online petitions hundreds had signed asking the stations to take it down.

Indeed, the widgets adorning a cable news broadcast threaten to cannibalize the primacy of the television’s breaking news authority. Like spending a date scrolling one’s iPhone under the table, the crawl’s messages are in competition with the ones coming out of anchor’s mouth. It disintegrates the intimacy that bonds viewers to their anchor—the relationship that dictates to whom they turn in moments of chaos and crisis. In 2007, Eric Ober, a CBS News executive in the ’90s, said that distracting viewers from the message the anchor is trying to convey is “the worst thing you can do on a TV screen.”

3 Responses to “Death to the Crawl!”

  1. I had to flip the telly to FNC to see if there still was a crawl, which confirms that I’ve long ago tuned it out. If the idea for it is to replicate online news reading then there should also be an interface device to make that crawling information useful. That, of course, would be be helpful for ratings-dependant productions.

    All that crawler does, really, is degrade the experience of high definition picture for the viewer. .

  2. Between the crawl and the bug it’s time to spray that damn thing.

  3. They should have the tickers during opinion shows so there’s some real news on the screen somewhere

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