Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanks

Our tolerance for local news idiots is lower than usual, so we've been trying to keep them off our screens lately. 

Fortunately, our alert readers have been keeping us posted on what we've been missing...

One emailer writes, 
The geniuses at the newsplex yesterday noted that a man had been electrocuted in Omaha while paining a house and was being transferred to a Lincoln burn unit. What in the world can  a burn unit do for a dead painter?  Even the scary graphic over Brandi’s cute little head said ELECTROCUTION….get those kids a dictionary. No one survives electrocution.
Another notes the latest SuxNews promotion, which sounds more like something the Mighty 1290/KOIL would've offered in 1973:
From the "web channel"
Channel 6 wants to invite you and nine others for a behind-the-scenes 
look at our brand new set.
Complete with a pizza party!
See John, Tracy, Jim, Dave!
Have some pizza!
And our favorite, from a visitor in town for the holiday:
So I'm watching 6 News because I'm back home in the area and wanted to see what differences there were. Like you said, it's basically polishing a turd.
 
That said, one mistake takes the cake ... and technically, this wasn't even made by the news department but rather the promo dept. Right after showing a newspackage about social networking that was absolutely uninformative and basically inane and speculative, WOWT went to a promo which advertised that exact story, not one minute after the story had just aired.
 
Fucking morons.
Boy don't we know it.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Contagious

At this time of year, apparently, TV meteorologists get the itch to make predictions months in advance. We thought such hubris only oozed from Channel Sux's Jim Flowers, but Sunday night showed that KETVNewswatch7's chief weather-guesser, Bill Randby had caught the same bug.

Randby's "Winter Forecast," in fact, looked like it had been ripped straight from Jim's script of a week or two ago. La Nina, blah blah blah, jet stream, blah blah blah, and on it went. The only discernible difference is that Big Bill thinks we'll only amass a winter snowfall total of 23-27 inches (compared to Jim's guess of 28-32).

Someone might want to tell Bill that Channel Sux is not the model of excellence he wants to be emulating.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Gambling

We put it off as long as we could, but last night, we finally broke down and watched "Jim's Winter Forecast." 

After lots of yammering about a "La Nina" and water temps and jet streams, WOWT Chief Ejacucaster Jim Flowers got around to his prediction: early "ice events," and a winter snowfall total of between 28 and 32 inches. 

Guess what the average annual snowfall total in for Omaha is.

Yep, 30 inches. 

Way to go, Jim! Thanks for taking five minutes to point out what we found online in 30 seconds. That was well worth the week of hype you and your increasingly worthless station put into it.  (Did you go over to the "Dot-Com Center" to get your info?) 

As hard as it is to believe, the people at this station are seemingly beyond being embarrassed by the work they do.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Wager

Anyone willing to bet that SuxNews second-team anchor Jimmy Thiedlecki is smarter than a chicken might want to rethink things.

Honest to God, this morning, his co-anchor, Maladroit Maddox reads a story saying that a shooting victim was found at 15th and Dorcas and died en route to the hospital. Jimmy then says, "Updates on the man's condition were not provided; we'll provide more information when it's available" (or words pretty close to that).

Doubtless, members of the man's family will be surprised to learn of changes in his condition.

Will Jimmy cobble together updates for the 11:30 'cast the way he manufactured election results last week?

Does anyone ever sit this in-over-his-head lummox down and critique his work? Leaving aside the lisp, loud-talking, and general cheesiness, might someone at least casually mention to him that thinking about what he's reading is an important skill to have? Better yet, why not just "downsize" him?

Perhaps if he spent more time thinking about the news part of his job and less time coming up with inane quips to toss into his crosstalk with Maladroit, he could avoid at least one of the ways in which he embarrasses himself and his co-workers.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Ejacucasting

To hear the Suxers tell it, none of them can go anywhere without being mobbed by folks wanting to know about "Jim's Winter Forecast." 

Yeah, sure. Hardly anyone's talking about the election, or Thanksgiving being right around the corner, or the latest episode of "The Office." We'll bet Jim's appearances in public look like the return of the Elvis. People are so dependent on his pronouncements.

Oh brother. 

For those of you who are unfamiliar with this particular SuxNews urban myth, "Jim's Winter Forecast" is an annual event in which Jim Flowers—a man who can only occasionally tell you what the weather will be like tomorrow—pretends to be able to tell you what it will be doing in February.

Jim's typical "winter forecasts" involve telling viewers it'll be cold in December, and if that's the case, it'll be warmer in January and March, but if December is warm, then we should expect a colder February, at which point, most viewers probably ask themselves why the hell they tuned in for this. Anyone could make a similarly vague prediction and have just about the same likelihood of being right as Jim does.

The really great thing is listening to Jim talk three or four minutes of inside baseball—the kind of stuff that only dorks with meteorology fetishes care about—before he gets around to (sort of) making guesses in which virtually every remark is hedged in one way or another. 

Wouldn't it be something if the Suxers actually focused—just once—on producing newscasts with accurate, relevant news to attract viewers, instead of relying on this kind of pseudo-scientific prattling and hype? How depressing must it be to get up every day knowing that you're stuck on such a sinking ship of a station?

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Invention

Friday's news that Barack Obama won an electoral vote from Nebraska's 2nd congressional district might come as a surprise to the dozens of people who caught Channel Sux's 11:30 a.m. newscast on Wednesday.

It was on that broadcast that anchor Jimmy Thiedlecki decided to declare McCain the winner of that vote.

Not only did Jimmy make the wrong call, he did it based on totals that he seems to have just made up. 

When an alert reader emailed the station to point out that the totals shown on the newscast were higher than election officials said had been cast in the 2nd district, he received a reply from Jimmy himthelf explaining that "the numbers on our website were a bit dated and I knew there were uncounted ballots that would have been counted on Wednesday morning."

So, rather than relying on verifiable info from reliable, informed sources, Jimmy decided to figure it out himself. Problem was, Jimmy had no idea what precincts constituted the 2nd district, which led to his reporting bogus numbers.
"I added too many precincts from Sarpy to theDouglas numbers while trying to update them," he admitted in the email.
What's interesting isn't that Jimmy screwed up; we've documented Mr. Know-It-All's ineptitude all too often. The fascinating part is that, rather than having an editorial process for deciding what to report, SuxNews apparently just turns one person loose to get on the air to read whatever he thinks is true. 
The people we know, the news we trust? Is this journalism or just a bunch of people playing TV? 
Maybe, for future elections, they should just air re-runs of "Wild, Wild West." You know, like they do during tornadoes.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Election Notes

• Favorite Flub: KETVNewswatch7's Brandi Peterson referring to longtime Douglas County Commisioner Clare Duda as "winning her race." Duda, by all outward appearances, is a man and has been for the 15 or 20 years he's been in the public eye. Wake up, Brandi.

• Runnerup Flub: Action 3rd News' Joe Jordan telling viewers that Mike Johanns "appears to be winning" his Senate race when Johanns was ahead by over 100,000 votes. Appeared to be winning? That's like saying there appears to be a football game going on when 85,000 people are packed into Memorial Stadium on a Saturday.  

• Third Place (tie): Channel Sux's decision to do a local cut-in just as John McCain strode onto the stage to concede the presidential race (even though NBC's Brian Williams had warned two minutes earlier that McCain's speech was set to occur in about two minutes). Tying for 3rd place flub is Sux's graphic at 10:36 p.m. (spotted by an alert reader): "Barrack Obama makes history." For some stations, we might attribute the extra r to a typo; at SuxNews, it's par for the course.

• Graphics Hell: Both Channel 3rd and Channel Sux ran election results along the bottom of the screen in the least useful forms imaginable. Channel 3rd ran results horizontally, listing candidates alphabetically, so that one had to be extra vigilant to make sense of the numbers flashing on the screen. 

SuxNews followed the same basic format, but did at least sort candidates by vote total within each race. Their results also lacked percentages, showing only vote totals.

Channel 7 won the graphics portion of the competition, displaying candidates' names vertically, in rank order, and in a sufficiently large font, thereby making it possible to track what was going on without having to remember what names and numbers had been displayed three screens earlier.

(Editor's Note: Before anyone asks, we didn't see what was going on at Fox42. We didn't flip over there even once. In fact, it never occurred to us. And seriously, do people really turn there looking for reliable information?)

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