“NewsHour” is invaluable on Ukraine
Thank your favorite deity — and viewers who donate— for PBS’s news
Probably you don’t realize this because, well, because you probably don’t watch PBS’s NewsHour. Relatively few people do. It averages slightly less than a million viewers per broadcast, far less than NBC Nightly News or cable’s most popular quasi-news show, Tucker Carlson Tonight.
But the public-TV newscast is providing the most diversified, nuanced, thoughtful, unhurried, useful coverage of the war on Ukraine you can find on American electronic media.
NewsHour doesn’t have the flashiest video of the war. Just as it’s the last place you’d look for the latest bad-weather wowser, footage, it’s not where you go if you want to see footage of missiles raining on Mariupol or Ukrainian soldiers using PTRK “Stugna-P” missile to take out Russian tanks.
It is the place to go, however, if you want to understand and absorb what’s going on.
NewsHour has a slower pace, it almost never employs split screen, and its video is never, ever edited so that it flashes and pops like a Taco Bell commercial. All this works to its favor in covering Ukraine under siege.
NewsHour’s reports don’t assault you with images, they walk you through the war, sometimes literally. They take the time to have their correspondents sit with the people they’re interviewing, have a conversation, in the Ukrainians’ damaged apartments or out on lawns pocked by bomb craters. They let the Ukrainians go on at some length. No sound bites. They focus on faces. They make it real.
Nobody on NewsHour’s roster of reporters is doing finer work than Nick Schifrin, its foreign affairs and defense correspondent. Whether he’s conversing with Ukrainian soldiers near the front lines or with refugee mothers and children in Poland, he’s never the story. He’s unobtrusive, attentive, a thoughtful questioner, an even better listener.
Here’s a link to one of his recent pieces, both transcript and video. Except for CBS’s 60 Minutes, there’s no American TV news program where you’ll see a report of this length or less obvious. As someone who spent more than three decades covering television and TV news, I can’t recommend it more highly. And the same goes generally for NewsHour, a national resource that deserves far more use than it typically gets.