Thursday, June 10, 2010

Backwards

We can remember a simpler, gentler time: an era when there were only three or four stations to choose from, when professionally-produced national newscasts were delivered by trained, serious journalists. In those days, national news was a once-a-day treat, and most of the really stupid stuff we saw on TV was produced by rubes at local stations—stations that were on the air maybe twenty hours a day.

Unfortunately, those days are gone.

Local TV still has a remarkable capacity for airing worthless programming, most of it thrown together by nitwits and bimbos who couldn't have gotten even an interview with their current stations 25 years ago, much less an anchor job. Despite all the technical improvements and 21st century gadgetry, local news is more vapid and useless than ever.

One example of this trend involves having news anchors encourage viewers to post comments online regarding a given topic. That, one might think, would be pointless enough. But rather than stopping there, said anchors go on to give the resulting posts a cold, on-air reading.

The reading usually sounds something like, "Umm, Noreen writes, 'This is what we get for fluoridating the water!'And, uh, Delmer says, 'I think the feminists are trying to steal my socks,'" when the topic is the College World Series. It's the sort of moronic drivel that, in the old days, would have been reserved for the KFAB Comment Line.

Locally, this mental novocaine first appeared where most local idiotic features originate: SuxNews. Unfortunately, before long, KETV was making its anchors read viewer posts to the station's Facebook page.

Even more disturbing is that the ineptitude and vacuousness of local stations seems to be seeping upward into national outlets, in the same way that excrement climbs  into a house when there's no backflow preventer on the sewer pipe. Seeing this inanity on outlets like CNN, MSNBC, and even an occasional network news program is especially troubling.

Here's what news directors (and the clueless consultants who pull their strings) don't seem to get: We tune in to news programs because we want to hear from people who know more than we do and who have actually located facts in an attempt to make sense of what's going on in the world. We want to articulate, educated, clear-thinking grownups to keep us up to speed on current events.

If we want half-baked theories, mundane observations, and irrelevant gripes, we can go down the street and visit our dumbass neighbor—the one with the unpainted house, who's in his eleventh year of building a retaining wall in his backyard and whose driveway features a rusting pontoon boat, half a decaying swingset, a faded Tilt-a-Whirl sign, and a maroon conversion van sporting Oregon license plates. Or we can go to a Tea Party gathering.

In other words, we want these dolts to take the time they waste reading online postings and, instead, give us meaningful info in a coherent manner.

Is that asking too much?

10 comments:

avriel09 said...

amen!

http://7canthelp.tv/index.html

News Junky said...

Amen and Amen! Ask why they waste air time on these silly tidbits of non-news items and most likely the response would be, "because we can!"

Dumb Anguish said...

Looks like WOWT is all screwed up again. At about 6:45 this morning I tuned to the people we know and the news we trust and it was frozen. The whole screen was just frozen on a story about Colorado bolting for the Pac-10. Based on the time they always display in the corner, the screen had been frozen since 6:31. And was still frozen long past 7:00 when the Today show was supposed to be on.

Whatever happened to shame?

KM3 Alum said...

To quote Ted "Despite all the technical improvements and 21st century gadgetry..."
After this morning, you may want to change "Despite" to "
Because" or "Due to"...The first half-hour (or more; I had to get to the office and did not see just how long it went on) of the Today Show was replaced by a slide summarizing the football conference shuffle. Apparently, six (1) does not have anyone monitoring Master Control (2) does not have anyone in-house to notice or to be alerted by calls from viewers wondering what is going on (3)does not have anyone capable of correcting said error.
On the bright side, I discovered that even though I was getting disgusted with the Today Show and their focus on missing children and young women, Good Morning America and Whatever Is On CBS are worse...

Cogitor said...

Of course it's asking too much. Real news takes work. The age of "reality television" has removed the necessity to do work. Network panders to the lowest common denominator, so the village idiots out there (whose numbers seem to grow by leaps and bounds) are plenty happy to watch Survivor, Big Brother, Wife Swap (Jesus H. Christ...Wife Swap!), and all that other useless, artificial shit featuring people with no personal boundaries looking for 15 minutes of fame. They're perfectly happy to follow that up with a tabloid version of the "news". Who cares about facts?

The only TV worth watching is now on some cable networks. They're putting some real effort and investment into quality series programming. I guess we'll have to wait for HBO and friends to put together a serious news show before we see quality journalism again.

Anyone holding their breath for any of the local stations to return to real journalism is going to pass out. It's not happening soon.

Will said...

Speaking of Six, what was up with them this morning? Totally locked up, screen frozen, for what seemed like forever.

Maybe they ought to re-think this "one guy in the control room" thing.

Max Cool said...

amen! amen! amen!
It's as if you are looking into my soul, Ted. How any consultant can justify this drivel is beyond me. It's NOT news and it does NOT connect with people who are into the new media/technology. This is beyond lame. It's a relief to know I am not the only one staring at my TV saying, "you have to be f***ing kidding me". Friday as 10/11 in Lincoln talked about the NU move from the Big 12 to the Big 10 they said "...so, we decided to go to Virginia's cafe to see how Husker fans feel about the move". Luckily the Big 10 won't be judging us on the quality of our local media.

Omababe said...

>Local TV still has a remarkable capacity
>for airing worthless programming ...local
>news is more vapid and useless than ever.

I'm sure you realize that you're preaching to the choir, Ted! :)

What still astounds me is that the viewers in the area are willing to watch such poorly produced news products! It totally perplexes me as to why the local businesses are willing to buy airtime on such programs. (Yes, I know, it's because the viewers are there watching.) :(

It really annoys me when I return to Omaha and the same old {s-bomb} that passes for local news after watching far superior examples even in smaller markets.

Speaking of which ... IIRC, the Omaha area is now CSA #46, even though we're way down there on the DMA or TMA list or whatever they're calling it this week. (Maybe that has something to do with it?)

On this last trip I watched a few other local newscasts and made some mental notes on where I think the Omaha market is lacking.

1. The lack of true content. There's very little "hard news" in that half-hour production. Too much airtime is taken up with such things as that inane banter and babble! It's like they are stretching it out, rather than filling it in with meaningful content! How about more in-depth and some investigational reportage! And phuh-leez, don't try to pass off a product or service of a sponsor as news! :(

2. Carelessness and lack of attention to detail. I just get the feeling that the local on-screen talent and production folks are just not "into it" and are doing only what they need to do to get by. It's often times simple things, spelling, grammar, dead mike, missed cue, etc. Jeesh! Take a few minutes for some QA!

3. Management bungling! I really think this is the root cause. It's painfully obvious that all three of the so-called majors are trying to squeeze every last penny, and they are throwing out the baby with the bath water! It costs real money to hire and groom quality talent. Likewise, it costs to have a behind the camera crew that is competent and cares about what they are doing to support the overall quality of the production. Originality is risky, but it doesn't cost much. It's far better than the oh-so-formulaic (but safer) concept styles. Speaking of originality, when it wears out its welcome, put it out to pasture! Hint: "Heartland", yes the term felt warm and fuzzy for maybe the first 6 months, but after a decade or so it became trite and time-worn! Ditto with "web channel"! (Yeah, yeah, I know, Corporate insists on it, but still ...)

>having news anchors encourage viewers to
>post comments ...said anchors go on to give
>the resulting posts a cold, on-air reading.

See #3 above! It costs virtually NOTHING to kill on-air time with drek like this! Production cost is close to nil, plus it gives the few loyal viewers the *THRILL* of being recognized on air. Hey, if you're gonna do a rip-n-read, at least do it from the wire!

Would the viewers really rather have this than hard news, no-bullsh*t weather, and the like? I don't know, I'm asking!

>instead, give us meaningful info in a coherent manner.
>Is that asking too much?

Apparently that's not what they intend to do! Sad, isn't it?

(Yeah I know, b*tch-b*tch-b*tch!)

kdklown said...

The death of the television unions in this town meant the death of decent television news in Omaha. It used to be that you worked from intern to part-time to full-time when you started at a station...that or you had 3 or 4 years minimum experience in Kearney, etc., before you could even get an interview at a local station. People were paid according to experience and you were expected to do a good job for a good wage...not just throw anything on the air to fill time. Now, any 12 year old who has a one man band resume tape can get a job in this barren television wasteland of a town. As they used to say in the old union days at 3, 6, and 7...you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. EEEP EEEP Omaha!!

omatvwatcher said...

Well, you guys are about hear about the latest move the folks in charge at KPTM have done to pull the market even deeper down the drain. And when the guys running Grey and Journal hear about it, you can probably count on them following suit as well.

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