The ethical dilemma of television news sweeps

Journal of Mass Media Ethics 10 (1):37 – 48 (1995)
This study compares two local television newsrooms during sweeps ratings periods. Sweeps pose an ethical dilemma for newsworkers and their organizations in that the explicit goal of sweeps is to maximize audiences and profits, which strongly increases the pressure to produce sensationalistic or sleazy news to attract viewers. But sweeps also present the opportunity to produce more ethical and substantive news by giving reporters more time both off and on the air to explore issues. This study examines whether newsworkers and their organizations can resolve this dilemma in such a way as to serve both market interests and the public interest.
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