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360: TMJ4 News viewers call for more positivity, representation, and balance

Posted at 5:21 AM, May 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-10 20:01:38-04

For some people, local news offers a critical source of information. For others, the reports of crime and illness can be traumatizing.

So, we're going 360 and talking to industry experts and to a local psychologist about why balance and representation truly matter in local news. We also speak to Milwaukeeans who say they avoid local newscasts and to those who call themselves loyal TMJ4 viewers. That's where we start.

360: TMJ4 News viewers call for more positivity, representation, and balance

"The local news gives you the information you need to live your life. I mean quite literally," said Jim Galezewski who said he watches TMJ4 News each night after dinner. He follows updates on crime, COVID-19, and keeps tabs on elected officials.

Another loyal viewer, Rebecca Burrell said she watches local news every day but sees something different.

"Representation matters. Especially when you're Black, you've grown up in a colonized country," said Burrell.

She says as an activist, she wants to see local news do a better job at showing the good happening all around us.

"I appreciate the opportunity to highlight our community for not only the negative things that happen but also a lot of the positive things that happen," said Burrell.

Dr. Ana Garner researches and teaches journalism at Marquette University. She says a lack of balance and representation can send an unintended message.

"The problem is that those kinds of stories focus on the few bad apples or few bad incidents when there are a whole group of people out there who are living their lives, that are working every day, they're trying to do good things for the communities and themselves and none of that matters and none of that gets attention," said Garner.

Shantell Riley says local news lack compassion.

"It was constantly like retraumatizing me," said Riley.

She lost her son to gun violence a few years ago and she says the negativity in news led her to eventually turn it off for good.

"I originally stopped watching the news, like I said I was done when we started the COVID cases and deaths," said Riley. "It just felt like they were reporting sports stats."

Mark Zoromski, past president of the Milwaukee Press Club, agrees that intentional balance is needed.

"I think the audience understands that I'm watching a newscast because I want to find out about the news. But, who can blame them for saying all you're giving me is crime news and by the end of it I'm so depressed that I don't want to watch news anymore," said Zoromski.

It's why UW-Health Psychologist Dr. Shilagh Mirgain believes positive community-focused stories can really make an impact.

"When we see those positive stories there's representation of what's possible. So, we can see ourselves in that person's shoes or it can open up new possibilities or we might just be inspired to take action," said Mirgain.

A call for balance, positivity, and representation that is not going unheard by the TMJ4 News Team.

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