USA Today Susan Page

I read your tweet of a few hours ago:

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First, a viewing tip:  tonight at 7pm, Iraqi Ambassador to the USA, Lukman Faily, will be one of our guests.  I hope you will watch.  UPDATE: I am told we are moving this interview to tomorrow night because of the second shooting in St. Louis.

Second, I can understand your frustration if that is what your tweet intended to convey.  If you watch ON THE RECORD at 7pm, and I wish you would, you would see that we are covering Iraq every night for a portion of our show (we have also covered Robin Williams and Ferguson.)  I have also reported about Iraq here on GretaWire.  It is a very important story….imagine if the Mosul dam had broken…and of course, the ethnic cleansing there is unthinkable.  I have been to a refugee camp in Iraq and once you have been there, you never forget it.

As for cable news programming, it is difficult to figure out how much attention to pay to any given story on any given night.  How do you measure importance? And whose standards do you use in measuring importance?  Your own? or what you think the many diverse viewers’ standards are?

We have an hour (I think really 44 minutes when you factor in commercials) and it is a daily challenge to figure how to use that limited time.  We want to cover the news and do our best job for the viewers but it is always a bit of guess work as how to do it.  We also like to add some lighter fare from time to time since news can be overwhelmingly sad.

Sometimes if another network is spending a great deal of time on a particular story, that is an invitation for us to focus on other stories and give viewers more options (and I am sure other networks think the same way.)  Of course we also have the flip problem where we are all doing the same story because we all think it is deserving of great attention and the viewer appetite is strong.

Bottom line, it is always a challenge to figure out what story to do and how much of it and how.  If I had my way, I would be doing 24/7 about that rotten evil President Bashir of Sudan until he got arrested on his outstanding genocide indictment in the ICC, but I think the viewers would throw me off the air fast…maybe after two nights of it?  (As an aside, the viewers and bloggers have been quite generous so far about my constant talking and blogging about that evil Bashir — they share my outrage.)