For Some TV Newsmagazines, It’s All Crime


Some television news magazines are going exclusively with crime stories, says the Washington Post. Some examples just from NBC’s “Dateline”: “A beauty queen accused of murdering her husband. A woman accused of killing her pastor husband. A man convicted of killing his bride on their honeymoon. A newly married man who disappears from a cruise ship. A boot-camp director accused of murdering a teenager. A former model and her boyfriend who disappear on a boating trip. An 18-year-old whose partially clothed body was found in a car trunk.”

CBS’s “48 Hours” has covered murders almost exclusively for the past two years. In a country in which more than 16,000 murders were committed last year, are the killings of ordinary people, however tragic, really worth all this airtime, asks Post media columnist Howard Kurtz? “I think it lends itself to storytelling,” says David Corvo, executive producer of “Dateline.” “You’ve got a confrontation, right and wrong, guilt or innocence, and a resolution, and there’s some suspense getting to that resolution.” “48 Hours” specializes in older cases that it can follow through the court system. the program made the shift two years ago after ratings showed that “the crime genre really kind of resonated” with the audience, says producer Susan Zirinsky. “I make no apologies. We love doing it.” Television analyst Andrew Tyndall, who dubs the crime sagas “cliffhanger journalism,” says newsmagazines proliferated because they were less expensive to produce than sitcoms or dramas. “Journalists are cheaper than actors,” he says. “It turned out that real people are cheaper than journalists.”


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