Citizens of Quad Cities Share Multiple Options in the Media
Living in the midst of four cities, separated by the largest river in North America, local media outlets must cater to many different audiences in Illinois and Iowa. Eight television stations serve the Quad Cities. Where I live, the most prominent stations are WHBF (CBS affiliate), WQAD (ABC affiliate), and KLJB (Fox affiliate). As a student of Augustana College, I am not a permanent resident of the Quad Cities, so it is interesting to compare the styles of news with the aforementioned stations, and those of an immense market like Chicago.
In a recent class visit to WQAD’s station, we discussed with the anchors and the rest of the news team about their connection to the community. Chris Williams, the 9pm news anchor, told us a story of how he used Facebook to find story ideas.
With these three primary stations broadcasting as the main core options for locals, it offers many more options for programs, and thus more viewers. The stations continue to look for new ways of attracting audiences. Again, in our discussion with WQAD staff, they explained how their news style is shaped around the programs that come before and after the broadcast, in order to appeal to different demographics and markets.
With each station participating in cross operations, they are able to reach a broader public. This is supported in Michael K. Powell’s statement in his pro-argument, apart of the article Should the FCC Liberalize Ownership Rules. He states, “[…] citizens have more choice and more control over what they see, hear, or read than any other time in history. This is a powerful paradigm shift in the American media system […].”
Of course, there is always the negative view that comes with the issue of widespread media, cross operation, and the growth of local media outlets with different agendas and rivalries. In the same article provided earlier, Robert McChesney and co-author John Nichols, of the negative argument, compare media expansion to “wal-martization.” They assert “major media concerns in the United States brag about their profits to Wall Street, but still cry poor when it comes to covering the news that matters to Main Street.”
This may be true, but from what I’ve witnessed, the local news broadcasts and other media presentations serve the Quad Cities with much social responsibility. The story that Williams started from the Facebook status focused on the cleanliness of oven mitts, which caused community wide awareness of the issue. The story soon went national. Believe it or not, these are the types of stories that communities like the Quad Cities need to hear, not unrelated stories that are only relevant to foreign publics. With a strong representation of news, the Quad Cities’ future in media seems safe for now.