Thursday, May 19, 2005

Making a Bad Thing Worse

Building on the phenomenal success they've had with calling Jim Flowers' weather report "the forcast for where you live," the Mensa Society members who run Channel 6 have decided to beat yet another phrase to death. Now, every night during the 10 p.m. newscast, one of the station's anchor/reporters is saddled with giving us "news for where you live," a 60 or 90 second content-free blurb about whatever that day's theme is.

It's like on the 1950s version of the Mickey Mouse club, when Tuesday was "Guest Star Day," Wednesday was "Anything Can Happen Day," and Thursday was "Roy Gets Drunk and Passes Out in a Pool of His Own Vomit Day." At WOWT, Wednesday is "Illnesses and Injuries" Night, with poor Tracy Madden delivering a sort of dumbed-down version of the idiotic "What's Going Around" feature that we hate so much on "Live at Five."

Hey mouseketeers: this is what it looks like when a news director and station manager are totally out of ideas and way past their professional primes. It's pretty clear that we're not going to see anything new or innovative out of these schmucks. The only question now is how long the station's owners will put up with this sad state of affairs.


Cogitor said...

Well, I have to agree. News where I live (hey, I live here within reach of your signal, dopes), what viruses kids are picking up at day care (where's the news value in reporting gastroenteritus week in and week out?), how much feather bones are at Chubb's Finer Foods and Lysol is all the way across town -- that's all just crap. Filler. Anti-content. SIXNews.

There have got to be stories of more value and interest if you look a bit. No one seems to be digging much anymore, and it's not limited to the staff at WOWT.

Will said...

I tend to agree that WOWT's news is the worst of the lot, but they've been on top long enough to have forgotton what it means to try.

Still, however, all these buzzwords are symptomatic of the rot that has crept into tv news ever since broadcasting was deregulated. Stations started being scooped up by the handful by conglomerates whose sole interest was increasing shareholder value. Broadcasting used to be considered a public trust. Now, it's just another business with a bottom line to satisfy. This leads to an increase in competition between the stations and this leads to an invevitable increase in gimmickry: Goodbye news. Hello "News Where You Live."

It's no longer enough just to report the weather. Now you have to ensure that you have some sort of Storm Tracker. Or Vipir. Or some other nonsense (like that current favorite that shows you what the sky is going to look like tomorrow. AS if I've never seen "cloudy."

It's no longer enough to report a story. Now, every story has to be "live and latebreaking, even if it happened last month (and what, by the way is the difference between "breaking" and "late breaking?"). And the stories they do report? Nothing but sensationalist drivel with bits of useful information among the flotsam.

There was a time when journalism (even tv journalism) was seen as a serious calling. No longer.

Damon Scott Hynes said...

And Channel 7--there's a story *before* the Top Story ? Reminds me of being 'almost pregnant' or Carlin's 'jumbo shrimp'...

King Vernon said...

Yeah, if you guys are thinking they are on the bottom. They have to try new things to retain that ranking. Not many ways you can really deliver the news.

janetdoe said...

WOWT never does anything unless its consultant (Larry Rickel) says so. On the other hand, WOWT does everything the consultant tells them to do.

Thursday night at Ten, BREAKING NEWS about a three alarm fire that the video indicates happened during daylight hours. It was BREAKING if covered with a live shot when it was actually happening. It's not BREAKING! when Doug Walker is doing a live intro to his package in the dark, from the site where the breaking news was breaking 3 hours previous.

OK, obviously, even the average viewer of average education and savvy is saying this to themselves. What you have to understand is that WOWT wants to be known as the "Breaking News" station. So, it really does not matter if a story is still developing in the way that we all think of "developing". Any excuse to use the terms "Breaking News", such as the fact that the investigation is underway, is worth hammering home the words "Breaking News". It's like a subliminal message in their (his) mind. Say it often enough and people will start to believe it. WOWT is THE station for "Breaking News". They are convinced that, next to weather coverage (most importantly, severe or storm coverage, the breaking news category is the ket area the station has to win to stay ahead of KETV.

The journalistic merits do not matter. This is pure marketing. Make the viewers believe what YOU want them to believe about your station and the TV news market.

Cogitor said...

Exactly! I had to laugh when I saw the daylight footage of breaking news at 10 PM, and I was thinking that if I'd been playing the drinking game, I'd be dead.

If WOWT's consultant situation is true as indicated above, then that's a perfect illustration of the problem with consultants. Ruts. Find one thing that sounds good (and might even work), and then beat the living hell out of it. It's a lot easier than actually doing enough work to make a good product, and the bozos running the stations eat it up without blinking an eye (the one that doesn't twitch). See also, "reality TV", every bit as annoying as "late-breaking" news and the price of brussels sprouts for the next few days.

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