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Hey CBS News, Listen To This

We asked and you, dear readers, provided. Incoming CBS News anchor Katie Couric, "Evening News" executive producer and other network decision-makers are wrapping up their listening tour in six select cities, getting a taste of what viewers want from their news. Since not everyone was invited, we decided to solicit your opinions. And you delivered. Here is a sample of the comments and e-mail we received on the topic.

Tahitidude lays it out like this:

Hey CBS people, I think it's cool you're trying to get some feedback about what we want to see.

I want to see serious, no-fluff news ... be fearless and in-depth (we can read the headlines online at work) but in a way I can relate to and that means something to me. For instance, if your lead story is some facts about a North Korean missile threat (a valid story in itself, but it doesn't really mean anything) I'd love to see a story immediately after with some background ... what's the political climate in N Korea? Are the threats real or just fear-mongering? This kind of thing puts the story into perspective. News is not simply 'the facts' on the wire ticker ... the truth and the facts are not always one and the same.

I'd love to see an end to the daily "this drug will kill you" or "a new study says coffee will increase brain capacity" ... these kind of reports come out every day and mean absolutely nothing. Furthermore, these stories seem to be squarely targeted at your senior audience - but if you want to attract yuppie viewers like myself we don't care about it.

We're starving for objective real news! Be brave and set CBS a-part from the rest as a place of serious, no-nonsense journalism and a fiercely loyal audience will find you.

Joycewest wants more:
We need more context for the news, and I don't think a 30-minute program is long enough. If that's all there is, however, go in depth -- maybe half the program -- on at least one topic. Today, for example, I want to know more about Lebanon, specifically what's been happening there between the time of the Lebanese civil war and today. On the website, offer something more than a transcript of what was on TV. Everything Tom Fenton said in his book about more foreign coverage is right on the mark. As far as domestic coverage, I think more attention needs to be paid to how we care for the disabled, both young and old. The increased population of autistic children has enormous impact on public schools and Medicaid. Likewise, Alzheimer's disease will take its toll both privately and for society at large. Often the plight of the disabled doesn't get attention until a catastrophe like Hurricane Katrina occurs. Coverage of disability issues could easily occupy a reporter full time.
RodHardy says:
"Just the facts,ma'am! This is what most want from the news. What we get is opinions dressed up as the news. If CBS wants to be a factfinder and fair reporter of those facts you will get your viewers back. We'll see if that miracle happens. "courage"
Sarah W. wants to hear about the bigger picture from the war in Iraq and writes in part:
1. How about a weekly/daily "soldier of the week"? The media focuses much more of its coverage on dead soldiers than live ones. How about giving some regular, continuing coverage to our brave living soldiers who are still able to appreciate the support? How about daring to show pictures of American soldiers with Iraqi children and citizens? Get some of your researchers to read military blogs for a start.

We all want our soldiers home and out of harms way as soon as possible. That would be the ultimate gift to give them. However, there is NO excuse for not giving them more support while they are still in Iraq/Afghanistan by showing Americans on a regular basis the wonderful relationships our soldiers are establishing with Iraqis and the multiple acts of kindess performed by our soldiers under the most difficult of circumstances.

2. Related to number 1: How about regular reporting of the good things happening in Iraq/Afghanistan? We know war is ugly and that people get killed every day. The violence has been pounded into our head on a daily basis. What would REALLY be "News" would be that a major news network regularly covers more than bloodshed and violence in Iraq.

3. Regular coverage of the history of present events/situations. Historical perspective and balance are sorely missing in much of the reporting of local and world events. We are inundated with new developments daily, with someone's latest "twist" on events and we forget (or never absorbed) what actually happened in the first place. It has gotten to the point much of the time that our news is more of a matter of news outlets reporting on whoever "chatters" most.

Now would be a good time to do a segment on Israel and Palestine.

And Brian 5064 wants more global coverage:
I crave more international news coverage that provides depth and context. The network newscasts tend to give a lot of headlines but very little substance to the stories they are covering. CBS would do well if they emulated BBC News. I think it would be helpful if the network news was a window to a global outlook. Americans would be savvier if our news outlets did a better job of conveying how world events impact us at home and how what we do in the U.S. is impacting the world. CBS now has a unique opportunity to do that and I hope they don't blow it. We can do without the stories about the guy who builds small houses or the latest craze in drag racing. Start taking your viewers more seriously! People are tuning in to watch the CBS Evening News not Entertainment Tonight!
Tobecatholic comments:
It would be a refreshing change to hear the news reported factually and objectively, without biased verbiage. Why is it so difficult for mainstream media to comprehend the people wants information, not opinion? I don't want Katie Couric's or anyone else's opinion seeping through the factual information. The vast majority of people in America are intelligent. We don't need you to make up our mind for us; we're capable of doing that for ourselves.
Joe H. writes:
I would find it refreshing to turn on a network news program and hear what happened without bias either way. I know this forces network types to make the wild leap that people in America have a brain and do not need to be told what to think about the story you are reporting, but it would be refreshing.
Janis R. says:
I have a suggestion - I frequently will hear a news story that covers a topic of interest in a superficial way. I realize there's not always enough time in a newscast to provide background info, or in-depth analysis. How about having a more complete discussion of the topics in a follow-up talk show on the topics of the day, referenced in the newscast; or provide background info on your website with links to essays or source material for viewers who want a more in-depth analysis. That way, people who want a more abbreviated version of the news can still get it, but a more thorough version is available.

Also, please, please, please - no editorializing! I can make up my own mind about topics of interest - but I need accurate, UNBIASED information.

Pegg M. says:
I suggest you have a section toward the end called, "You are the reporter" (or something like that) where your viewers can email you at the beginning of the show with questions to ask either a live current, newsworthy guest or a reporter with the knowledge of the subject. It would be pertinent, up to date and get your audience involved. Or you might have a survey question at the beginning of the show that relates to the big news story of the day. I also like the segments by Steve Hartman...kind of Charles-Kuralt-ish and should continue to lean on bringing out the nobility of everyday people, like your viewers. Thanks for listening.
And Steve C., a retired USMC Captain wrote to say he was less than optimistic:
What I want from CBS News, and with the selection of Katie Couric I have concluded I'll never get, is news. I quit watching Dan Rather over ten years ago when it became apparent that actual news took a very distant second place to editorial comments and attempts to influence my opinion instead of presenting unbiased news. With the selection of Katie Couric, CBS has blatantly stated "Move along. No real news show here."

Sad. My grandfather and father always watched CBS news. Now they'd roll in their graves.

Good feedback folks, keep it coming. The listening tour may be over but Public Eye is always here so take advantage and make sure CBS News can hear you.