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Saul Halpert to Speak on News Media Issues

Television viewers, radio listeners and newspaper readers deserve more than a list of murders, fires and bank heists, according to veteran journalist and media consultant Saul Halpert, who will speak at Thursday’s breakfast meeting of the Valley Jewish Business Leaders Assn.

At the breakfast, Halpert, 73, will explore whether the mass media provide the public with adequate and useful information.

“My short answer is: no, they don’t--and I deal mainly with television--because the business is money driven and looks for ratings and a big audience. The content of the news is diluted and people don’t get useful information as a result,” the Sherman Oaks resident said.

And Halpert speaks from his experience, including a 40-year journalism career in which he worked for all three major Los Angeles television stations and taught broadcast journalism at USC, his alma mater.

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As a writer, producer or on-air reporter, he has covered stories ranging from school busing in the 1970s to the 1980 and 1984 Republican and Democratic national conventions.

Before his retirement in 1989, Halpert for a decade moderated KNBC-TV’s “News Conference” public affairs program.

Halpert said he believes that community news, policy issues and elections too often are given short shrift, in favor of splashy crime stories.

For things to improve, journalists must strive for depth and analysis, he said. Viewers play a role as well.

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“It’s a chicken-or-the-egg thing,” he said.

“I think the people first have to be made aware that they deserve something better, and then they have to scream and shout and beg for it.”

The breakfast, which costs $15 for VJBLA members and $20 for nonmembers, will begin at 7:30 a.m. at the Warner Center Marriott, 21850 Oxnard St., Woodland Hills.

For information, call the association’s Marilyn Bloom at (818) 789-3331.

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