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Late Newscasts Don't Impress in Study

November 15, 2001|GREG BRAXTON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The three local 11 p.m. English-language newscasts received fair to poor marks in a national study released Wednesday examining 43 television news operations.

KNBC-TV had the highest-quality 11 p.m. newscast of the three network-owned stations in Los Angeles, according to the study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism, which is associated with the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

But KNBC's newscast was awarded only a grade of C, meaning it was ranked as merely average when compared with newscasts at 42 other stations in 14 cities. It was rated 20th overall.

The 11 p.m. newscasts of KABC-TV and KCBS-TV both received Ds in the report. KABC ranked 32nd out of the 43 stations, and KCBS was 39th.

The report examined the most popular news time slot in each city over a two-week period using criteria developed by a team of veteran news professionals. The criteria included the breadth of a newscast's coverage, its focus on significant issues and ideas and how closely it reflected the community.

Calling KNBC the "best station in a weak market," the study noted that KNBC's general manager, Paula Madison, bans live police chases but said the 11 p.m. newscast "can get better."

The report said that KABC has a "long way to go" but was closing in on KNBC in terms of quality. The newscast could improve its sources and do more investigations, the study said.

KABC actually averaged slightly more points for its news coverage than KNBC but received a lower grade because the newscast covered a narrower range of topics.

New KCBS general manager David Woodcock is likely to bring changes to the news operation, according to the study, which noted that the station conducts the only investigative unit in the market. The 11 p.m. newscast "needs more viewpoints" and should move away from its focus on crime coverage, the study said.

Los Angeles placed ninth overall among the 14 cities studied.

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