One weird thing about journalism is that most people who work in the news business are happy to concede that the press is somewhat more trivial than they’d like it to be. This is often chalked up to commercial pressures — we’re not doing a terrible job because we’re idiots or bad people, the journalist says, it’s because the audience is so horrible. And yet despite the theory that the “freak show” builds ratings and sells papers, the reality is that television, newspaper, and magazine journalism are all in long-term structural decline steadily losing audience. It’s almost as if people don’t, in fact, want to watch the news covered in a stupid manner but actually would be somewhat interested in learning important information about the world.
Along those lines, Joe Matthews started paying close attention to local news in the Los Angeles media market and found that the Spanish-language channels were substantially more substantive than the English-language ones. And guess which language they speak on L.A.’s top-rated local newscast? Spanish, of course, perhaps because “in Spanish, viewers got fewer soft features and more deeply reported, longer pieces.”