LOCAL TV NEWS….A few weeks ago Matt Yglesias commented that his local TV news was really, really bad, and suggested that it must be even worse in small markets where news budgets are correspondingly smaller. This prompted a bit of discussion, but no resolution.

Well, today resolution comes. The Project for Excellence in Journalism has spent the past five years studying local TV news, grading 172 stations according to criteria set by a panel of journalists, and recently decided to break down their rankings by market size. Their conclusion is that smaller stations actually produce higher quality news than bigger ones. Unfortunately, they don’t know why:

The data show stations owned by big companies were capable of high quality. However, for reasons that are impossible to determine from the numbers, these stations didn’t tend to produce high quality when most viewers were watching.

Rankings for all the newscasts they studied are here, including these assessments of news broadcasts in Los Angeles:

  • KCBS: Best in LA is faint praise. Gets both sides of story. But four in ten stories crime related.

  • KABC: Below national average in every category. Real lack of connection to community.

  • KNBC: Station reneges on “police chase ban.” Few issues. Sends cameras without reporters.

Sheesh. But surprising news for Matt: despite your complaining, the best quality news in the entire country is in….Boston. And be sure not to move to Albuquerque after you graduate or else you’ll find out what bad local news is really like.

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