Saturday, March 5, 2011

A Pander And A Panda

I would like to sincerely thank the Nightly News producers for wasting more than twenty minutes of air time with this week's "America At The Crossroads" series. Could someone please explain to me what the point of this series was? It was comprised of five generic non-news stories that could have been shown (and probably were) any time in the past 20 years. The next big thing in hi-tech innovation? Apprenticeship programs? The hard times that have fallen on Reading, PA? Foreign entrepreneurs who want to stay in the U.S. but can't? Women in the workplace? Give me a break. And that last story was particularly absurd. Nightly News has been doing the same story for years. In fact, Anne Thompson did the exact same story on 9/3/09. Friday's "women in the workplace" story seemed like nothing more than an excuse to show clips from "Leave It To Beaver", "Nine to Five", "Working Girl", "The Devil Wears Prada" and "Mad Men". These clips took up the first 25 seconds of the story. And what's the deal with "Leave It To Beaver"? This was the second time this week (and the fifth time in the past five months) that Nightly News has used clips from "Leave It To Beaver". Does Brian Williams own a piece of the show? Does he get royalties every time a clip is shown? And why is Nightly News using graphics that are clearly ripped off from "Mad Men"? Can't the producers come up with some original graphics? Maybe the Nightly News graphics are so stale because all the talented foreign workers from Reading have been forced to go back to their native countries and there aren't enough women in the Nightly News apprenticeship program.

This was Brian's comment after Wednesday's story about Reading, PA: "Reading's a great place--whole lot of people cheering for it." I will say this about Brian: He knows the value of pandering. Practically every city or state he mentions on his broadcast is preceded by the word "great". Obviously, Brian knows that one way to attract viewers is by pretending that he really cares about where they live. Also on Wednesday's broadcast, we saw a story about the secret lives of animals--what they do at night when no one is looking (they should have attached a "Breaking News" banner to that one). That story included lots of footage of the giant panda, so viewers got to see a pander and a panda on the same broadcast. Great work, guys. Keep it up.

Of course, Nightly News completely ignored this week's story about the assassination of Pakistan's only Christian cabinet minister. All the so-called experts agree that Pakistan is the most volatile country in the region, but Brian didn't feel that this story was important enough to make it onto the broadcast. However, Brian found time this week to air a story about Charlie Sheen and another story about how Continental Airlines is eliminating snacks on all flights. I'm sure glad that Brian knows how to prioritize news stories and decide what's really relevant.

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